THE CREATION OF ADAM - the first Russian gay movie had it's US premiere showing in San Jose's Towne 3 theater this Sunday and will be shown at Castro Friday, June 17 at 7pm. It is presented by Stolichnaya vodka at 18th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
The plot of the movie is a very simple one. A guardian angel (named Philip) falls in love with his "guardee" Andrei, breaks all angelic regulation, comes down to Earth, lures Andrei in his bed, cheats on his boy[angel]-friend, and goes back, leaving Andrei with an expecting wife.
This could be plot of funny comedy, of highly metaphoric film, or of "magic realism" cinema. It isn't any of these. Introducing the film to the public, director Yuri Pavlov told that he was delighted with reaction of Russian audience. Elder people, "babushkas", who went to see a homosexual movie found it to be the most romantic, innocent, clean movie they saw in the last years.
It is the most realistic movie about angels I ever saw. Angel Philip is quite unattractive man, impudent businessman driving a truck. He offers to Andrei not a philosophers' stone, nor elixir of life, but perpetuum mobile all greased in motor oil. Philip's boy-friend follows him in public places. The God leaves message for Philip on his answering machine. The angel doesn't have any wings, but rather big wart on his face.
Description in the Festival program gets almost everything wrong. It goes "Although Andrei and Philip kiss and even sleep together, their relationship is never named; in fact, it's clearly meant to be metaphoric. Their homosexuality exists entirely at the visual level; for example, you can tell Philip is gay because he wears eye-liner and sharp closes." I would say that their relationship is named loud and clear, and homosexuality of angel Philip is less obvious then homosexuality of married Andrei. Even Andrei knows about himself that it is impossible not to love him; he doesn't love his wife, but he doesn't ever think about a devoted long-time female co-worker, even if the co-worker never hides that she loves Andrei, and he obviously likes her a lot. I don't know about eye-liner, but Andrei's pattern of life is so typical for a Russian gay man.
Besides that, Andrei saves a young gay kid from queer-bashers, let the kid in his house, and all this just assures his wife that Andrei is gay. The woman is a bitch, but she isn't dumb.
I afraid, the movie is too Russian for gay audience and too gay for Russian one. My Russian lady friend, who is very open to things gay (she was instrumental in my own coming out) didn't get most of gay references in the film. On the other hand, director mentioned that viewers in Germany accused film in being too American. They considered return of main character to his wife to be a "happy end." I believe, un-loved wife is the most standard and very hellish end of live for many gay men in Russia, a life sentence which may be much worse than two years of hard labor for sodomy.
Sometimes the film is quite funny, and an audience in Towne 3 got the humor even with quite inadequate translation in subtitles. Sometimes the film is very slow, especially when the director tries to show slow, very long way of main hero to accept the gay love, and slow and hard way out of this relationship. The colors which are way "toned down" aren't part of "artistic vision' - it is just horrible quality of Russian film copy.
Will Yuri Pavlov, the director, become next Andrei Tarkovsky? Most probably he won't. (Though what you can tell from the first and only movie?) Was the first attempt to make Russian gay film successful? IMHO it was. It is warm, sweet, bitter and sad film. I really like that "babushkas" liked it.
If you can, go to the Castro theater Friday and see for yourself.