ND/NF: Vladimir Kott makes dysfunction palatable in The Fly/Mukha
Not another interminable remake of a remake of an adaptation, The Fly/Mukha only deals with the mutations of the heart. In this quirky Russian family drama, director Vladimir Kott captures the dank, inhospitable corners where life sometimes abandons us.
Fyodor Mukhin, played by Alexey Kravchenko with a rakish charm, bears a striking resemblance to Daniel Craig. However, his exploits are far more pedestrian than James Bond’s. Fyodor lives an intransigent life as a truck driver in communion with his fellow road warriors, unwilling to look ahead or settle down. Drinks, smokes, and prostitutes are the constant comforts these men return to on their attenuated byways.
However, Fyodor soon receives a letter from a former lover he strains to remember– a beacon in an all too hazy existence. Subconscious stirrings compel him to go looking for closure with this lost love. He ends up in the no man’s land of Barbash. After the police pull him out of his car for mysterious reasons, he realizes life has been happening around him despite his negligence. A teenage daughter is Fyodor’s reward for curiosity. Mukha not only shares a name with her father, but she is brimming with the same rebelliousness, amplified by youthful angst and sexual confusion.
The two competing halves of Mukha’s psyche are exemplified by a pair of maladjusted suitors. Suslik, the nerdy coward, attempts subterfuge to hide his inadequacies whereas Pulya, the brash fighter, views physicality as the only way to navigate the world. Mukha is struggling, violently at times, with who she wants to be, and the unexpected arrival of her father is at first an unbearable intrusion into her hard-won independence.
Fyodor desperately wants to make a connection, but he is blocked by unnatural calamity in the guise of the town’s Mayor, various women, and an imposing third act fire. He can’t catch any breaks, and his temporary job sucking human waste into a truck pretty much sums up his foray into responsibility.
The Fly/Mukha undeterred by the serious subject matter, unleashes a dark sense of humor at opportune moments to break the dizzying clashes between father and daughter. Once they stop self-sabotaging their own deepest wishes, these achingly human characters can sit down over some beef and macaroni like a real family and argue over meaningless trifles.
-Wayne Lorenzo Titus
Wayne Lorenzo Titus also writes for Cinemism.