Jul 8, 2016

Hipsters (2008)

Hipsters (2008) movie poster
Stilyagi is a 2008 Russian musical comedy-drama film directed by Valery Todorovsky. It won several Golden Eagle Awards and Nika Awards, including Best Film in both. In Russia, it has become a cult film, as most of its score consists of covers of 1980s and 1990s Russian rock music from bands such as Bravo, Nautilus Pompilius, Nol and the Red Elvises.

While the Cold War heats up on the world stage, rebellious youth in 1955 Moscow wage a cultural battle against dismal Soviet conformity, donning brightly colored black-market clothing, adopting American nicknames and reveling in forbidden jazz. Straight-laced 20-year-old Communist Mels finds these brazen 'hipsters' shocking until he falls under the spell of one, namely Polly, and joins the new revolution. Soon he's a peacock, cavorting in the latest flashy fashions, sporting an enormous pompadour and wailing on the saxophone.

K: Another Russian movie in our collection in a rare and kinda "dangerous" genre for big screen – musical. I’m not a big fan of that type of movie, but I decided to give a chance to “Stilyagi” and didn’t regret spending 2 hours in front of the screen. Valeri Todorovski made a really dynamic, bright and light movie. The plot can be easily read, there is no mystery to break your mind on. It's just a story about “golden” young people that existed in Soviet Russia from the late 1940s to early 1960s and they were very different from the “right” Komsomol people. It was the second time I watched this movie and, thanks to my dearest international friend Freddy, this time I really got into learning more about this young Soviet society.

F: You are right, Krasnaya. I also get bored very easily with musicals, but it wasn't the case this time. "Hipsters" is entertaining and fun! It has a nice flow, cool characters, great songs, and the insight it gives you into 50's Moscow society made me awake and curious. I'm lucky to have you near me, my dearest Russian friend, 'cause that way I was able to understand some cultural elements in the movie, like communal living, the Komsomols and so on...

Stilyagi Freda

K: The color of the movie changes from 50 shades of gray, which shows the “right” soviet people, to the tasty multi-color Stilyag’s style. The cast in this movie is really good, but I’d say I love the most the small roles played by well-known Russian actors; Sergey Garmash (Mels father), Oleg Yankovski (Fred’s father),Irina Rosanova (Polza’s mother) and Leonid Yarmolnik (Bob’s father). They get on for just a few minutes, but enough to give us some very vivid and funny moments. The young actors did a great job also, being my favorites Fred (Maxim Matveev) and Bob (Igor Voinarovski).

F: Yes, the moments with Sergey Garmash are my favorite ones also! I loved his song and the Komsomol one. This last one even got the hairs on my arm rising.

Sergey Garmash

K: The music consists mainly of cover songs from the 70's and 80's bands arranged with different lyrics. After several seconds, I just started singing with the characters and wanted to join them in the dance... hihi. So, resuming – I recommend this movie if you want to know more about Soviet Russia and wish to spend 2 pleasant hours with shinny colors and sounds; oh, by the way; about the costumes and decoration… another great job done here! Hipsters will make you smile and might surprise you sometimes. Not gonna spoil it; you just have to watch it!

F: I always get attracted to tales of non-conformism and rebellion. This film shows a very light side of the Stilyagi subculture. I bet there was a lot more repression in the form of violence done to these people back in post-Stalin-soviet Russia that's not shown in the movie. Anyway, I decided to do some research and have my Krasnaya friend translate some caricatures that I'm about to share with you below.

stilyagi subculture

Krasnaya score – 85/100
Freddy's score - 77/100

stilyagi caricature 1
stilyagi caricature 2
stilyagi caricature 3
stilyagi caricature 4
stilyagi caricature 5
stilyagi caricature 6
stilyagi caricature 7
stilyagi caricature 8

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