|Maximilian Mauff and Kristyna Malérová star as Eastern Block teens in ''Absurdistan.'' (first run features)|
Even in Russia, hormones run wild
'Absurdistan" finally gives Eastern Bloc oligarchy the teen-hormone farce we've been waiting for.
Set in the sort of backward post-Soviet village that produced Borat and the comedy of Yakov Smirnoff, Veit Helmer's half-amusing, half-tedious allegory presents the story of Aya (Kristyna Malérová) and Temelko (Maximilian Mauff), two Russian teens in love. All boy wants is to make love to girl. But as their penniless village's drought persists, she and the overripe babushkas in town go on a sex strike they vow to maintain until water flows through the one rusty pipe.
Rather than help solve the water crisis, the village's men - old, coarse, worthless, stupid with lust - plot panty raids, call sex lines, and organize a field trip to strip clubs. The women retaliate by cutting the telephone wires, dressing like guerrillas, and shooting up the bus. Only poor, desperate Temelko can think straight enough to attempt to solve the crisis at hand. As comedy, the movie, which Helmer wrote with Zaza Buadze and Gordan Mihic, rarely exceeds the ribaldry of a show like "Benny Hill." (At some point, one rooster switches genders to gain henhouse entry.)
None of this is to be confused with Gary Shteyngart's 2006 farcical novel of modern Russia, which is also called "Absurdistan." But as with that and a number of other recent books, movies, and television characters to arrive here from Eastern Europe, sadness pervades the mockery in Helmer's film. If the image of a girl strapped to a homemade rocket doesn't fly as moviemaking, the sense of escape it conjures feels true enough. The men and women in "Absurdistan" are stubbornly, monomaniacally principled. They hurt only themselves, so the village idiocy loosely becomes an allegory of Eastern European stagnation.
Despite its comedic limitations, this film is up to more than its American adolescent counterparts. Next week brings us "Miss March," a movie about a kid who hits the road looking for a Playboy Playmate. Right now the Jonas brothers are running from crazed fans in their "3D experience." The band doesn't look worried at all; in "Absurdistan," that scenario would be cause for panic. The crazed fans would be older and heavily armed.