Hipsters (Стиляги) – Review and Trailer

Hipsters reminded me of an American musical from the 1950’s, in all its vibrant Technicolor-ocity, placed into Stalin and post-Stalin Soviet Russia.

I should start my review by explaining my bias – I am not generally fond of musicals.  Overall, they seem to be a hotbed for raw, sentimental kitsch, and Hipsters is no exception.  However, as a musical, Hipsters is quite good in style and production. I have been told that the enjoyable tunes are largely drawn from late 70’s to early 80’s Russian songs.

The large-scale choreographed pieces are spectacular (with emphasis on spectacle.) The best of them, in my opinion, was the early one of the main character’s father singing and playing accordion, with the synchronized women doing chores and the long, sweeping dollies and cranes. The facial expressions are exaggerated in a way that would make Jeunet proud.

The plot of the film is, for the most part, cliché – boy from group A wants to join cool group B, naturally falls in love with a girl from B, antagonist from group A wants boy back, etc. But then we get to some areas where the cliché ends – we see nudity, for instance, and the outcome of a pregnancy is surprising.

This fact, of the old fashioned style of the sentimental, kitschy musical clashing with the more engrained modern realism, makes the film particularly interesting. I wish they had gone even further with it.

The acting is all quite good, and the musical numbers are believably synched. The cinematography and set-pieces are where this film really shines.

Worth a watch.

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