Monday, August 25, 2008

Bed and Sofa (Abram Room) ***1/2

Director: Abram Room

Cast: Nikolai Batalov, Lyudmila Semyonova, Vladimir Fogel

Background: Director Abram Room had 4 films under his belt before Bed and Sofa, but none of them distinguished enough to be available today. Nikolai Batalov was just coming off a lead role in a classic Russian silent film called Mother. Vladimir Fogel also had a notable performance in the 1925 film Chess Fever (which is packaged with Bed and Sofa on DVD release).

Story: Kolia (Batalov) and Liuda (Semyonova) are a married couple living in a tiny Moscow apartment. When Kolia's unemployed friend Volodia (Fogel) comes to Moscow, the couple invite him to stay. Volodia sleeps on the sofa, while Kolia and his wife share the bed just a few feet away. However, when Kolia goes away on a business trip, Liuda and Volodia begin to fall for one another.

Thoughts: Well, this is certainly an interesting film. Who would've thought that in Communist Russia of all places would we have the 1927 version of Melrose Place? And I don't even mean that as an insult. This is a fun and totally surprising comedy that really takes you places you wouldn't expect from a silent film. I mean, just imagine the situation of a man who leaves his cheating wife, only to find no place to live and now forced to sleep on the sofa just a few feet from where his wife sleeps with his former best friend. That is just crazy and totally messed up, and I loved every minute of it. This definitely has some cleverly subtle political points, but I love that Room avoids the melodrama and plays this mostly for the humor. The three cast members have excellent chemistry together, creating an interesting dynamic. The final scene is one of the biggest laughs I've had outside of a Chaplin, Keaton, or Lloyd film. Well played, Mr. Room.

Postscript: Abram Room would continue directing until 1971, but none of his movies got much notice. The same can be said for the actors, none of whom had a substantial career after this film was released.

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