(Happy Birthday, Lola! ) Reviewed
A few months before she appeared in the role of Sasha Belov's long-suffering wife in the RTR TV miniseries Brigada, Ekaterina Guseva was in a bad Russian suspense movie called Happy Birthday, Lola! The movie is based on a popular Russian comic strip. Unfortunately, the on screen action is punctuated by cutaways to scenes from the comics. The jerky camera work at the beginning, and a soundtrack that makes Brigada's seem high quality in comparison, also detract from the storyline.
Damsel in distress - Ekaterina Guseva plays the beautiful hostage Lola
The plot is simple: Lola, a beautiful young Russian woman who lives in a fabulous apartment on a busy street in Moscow, is preparing to celebrate the day before her birthday. Two professional killers, "Bim" and "Bom" (Vladimir Simonov plays the older killer, and Sergei Astakhov plays the younger bad guy) enter her apartment posing as couriers delivering her flowers and a big fancy box with a birthday present inside. The present turns out to be a heavy machine gun, and the two strangers are in fact gunmen plotting to assassinate the Russian President. The film's opening montage, featuring a documentary about the Kennedy Assassination in Russian, sort of beats the viewer over the head with this idea. Unfortunately, the reasons why someone would want to kill the new Russian President are never explained. The film becomes too narrowly focused on the nearly claustrophobic interaction between the three main characters.
Vladimir Simonov's suave young character tries with some success to turn Lola into another victim of Stockholm Syndrome, while his older accomplice generally is content just to threaten her. Nonetheless, Lola is trying to foil her captors' deadly plot, using whatever guile and charms she can. The film does not quite reduce its villains to cartoon characters, and all three main members of the cast turn in good performances. However, the actors cannot make up for a rather thin script from screenwriter Ilya Krishtul and director Vladimir Shchegolkov that tries to substitute sound effects and cheesy techno beats for a plot. Even for an action/suspense movie that is only 81 minutes long, there just isn't much here worth watching.
Film titles in Cyrillic:
Ð¡ Ð´Ð½ÐµÐ¼ Ñ€Ð¾Ð¶Ð´ÐµÐ½Ð¸Ñ, Ð›Ð¾Ð»Ð°!
You can watch Ekaterina Guseva's new TV spot for Canon cameras in Russia here: