Moscow Never Sleeps (NR)

Drama 101 min. June 9, 2017
By Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
Irish filmmaker Johnny O'Reilly exhibits such a confident understanding of Moscow in his latest Russian-language film that you'd think he was a native. He captures the Russian capital with grand landscape photography before zeroing in on intimate, familial territory as he weaves the story of several characters over the course of a day. It's Moscow City Day, to be specific -- a day of celebration -- but we're led to believe otherwise when one of the leads, a TV actor played by Yuriy Stoyanov, wakes up in a hospital and, told he's in neither heaven nor hell but Moscow, responds, "Must be hell."

We also meet his wife, his mistress and his "prodigal son," who rekindles a romance with his ex, a pop singer, who now lives with a rich businessman who flees the country after a deal goes bad. There's also an alcoholic man whose senile mother is bound for a senior home, as well as two teen stepsisters who get involved in a seedy situation with a gang of hoodlums who kidnap the actor at one point. There's a lot happening here -- perhaps too much. Moscow Never Sleeps is ambitious to a fault. While O'Reilly flexes an ability to tie together several narratives at once, he introduces so many characters that some of their stories must fall by the wayside. It's a shame because that muddles the more interesting vignettes, such as the actor's abduction or the bickering sisters who later pull their own trick on the abductors.
Johnny O'Reilly Aleksey Serebriakov, Evgenia Agenorova, Yuri Stoyanov, Lubov Aksenova, Mikhail Efremov, Anastasia Shalonko, Oleg Dolin Johnny O'Reilly

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