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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Todorovsky's Tale of a Love Between Three




Veteran director Pyotr Todorovsky has turned his camera onto love.


His new film "Retro for Three," which premiered Monday at the Pushkinsky movie theater takes a nostalgic and almost romantic look at a Muscovite m?nage ? trois.


A remake of the 1927 film "3rd Meshchanskaya" by Abram Room, "Retro" updates a story originally designed to attack bourgeois principles. Free of any satire, "Retro" is instead a slightly ironic, sentimental comedy of confused love.


"Honestly speaking, we just wanted to make a commercial, entertaining movie. [Todorovsky] always makes very serious films," said the director's wife and producer Mira Todorovskaya, whose idea it was to make the film, at the recent press showing at the Central House of Actors.


"I wanted [the film] to be light, so that it was not like a loud, heavyweight symphony orchestra [but] more like a guitar song," added Todorovsky, 72.


The director succeeds with his light touch, painting a city to revel in. Moscow is a colorful, homey town in the film, seen through the glow of nostalgia where people are mostly busy kissing, shopping and running happily under a warm summer rain.


The "Retro" image of the city is drastically different from the Moscow full of gamblers, mafia and prostitutes seen in "Land of the Deaf," a successful recent production by Todorovsky's son, Valery.


Both films were shown last month at the Berlin Film Festival, "Retro for Three" in the out-of-competition program.


In "Retro," Yelena Yakovleva plays a photographer happily married to Yevgeny Sidikhin until his best friend (Sergei Makovetsky) turns up. An affair begins and the husband storms out when he finds out about it.


But, unable to live without her, he returns and the three begin to live together.


The three characters aren't particularly unusual for their proclivity for odd relationships, said Todorovsky, citing historical precedents. Other famous Russian love triangles include writer Ivan Turgenev, singer Poline Viardot and her husband. Genius proletarian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky lived together with Lily Brik and her husband during the sexual revolution of the early years of the Soviet Union.


The film's focus on two men and one woman is a deliberate one.


"Women are always looking for an ideal," the director said. The center of Todorovsky's love triangle at one point creates her own ideal in the film, sticking together parts of portraits of both her lovers to make one face.


The trio of Yakovleva, Makovetsky and Sidikhin do a capable job of portraying the ensuing psychological confusion of when a man's wife loves him and his best friend equally.


All three actors, though play characters with suspiciously similar characters to their previous roles -- Yakovleva as the good-natured prostitute from "Interdevochka," Makovetsky as a touchingly awkward neurotic from last year's hit "Three Stories," and Sidikhin playing another simple-hearted muzhik.


Makovetsky said he's never been in such a tricky relationship as his character but said it could happen. "[Playing this role] was an opportunity to see if there is a way out [of the situation]," he said.


Makovetsky said there could be a chance for a sequel and speculated on how the film might continue after the twomen find out that their love is pregnant.


"Even if the two men go and live in different cities, they'll remain in contact ... They'll never be friends anymore ... but they will retain a relationship on some fourth level," he said. "But if she dies when giving birth and the baby lives, we can make a sequel. That will be a thriller, though. The men, who don't know who is the father, will fight like two animals."