Film About Has-Been Rock Star At Crossroads Is Stuck in Traffic

"Perekryostok," or "Crossroads," a new movie by Dmitry Astrakhan, feels like standing at a traffic light that got stuck on red.

In this "film of the good mood," as the director has pitched it, the characters stumble into each other at a certain intersection of their lives and stop there, stomping about on one spot. The camera's twists and turnswhisk by in a colorful blur without disrupting the characters' sweet stagnation.

The film, which has a famous star and a well-known director, had the potential to be interesting. Although the film's promoters deny it, the hero is clearly based on the rock star Andrei Makarevich, who wrote the music for the film.

The plot revolves around the rock group Dyadya Alik, which reached its peak 20 years ago. Nowadays, the former heartthrobs' glory has faded and the group has to support itself by playing at weddings and in underground passageways.

By a stroke of good luck, Alik, the group's leader, runs into Misha, an old friend and successful businessman, who offers to arrange the band's tour in the United States. The only problem is that Alik is divorced and the chances for a bachelor to be granted a U.S. visa aren't great, so the musician urgently needs to find a bride.

At the same time, a pretty English teacher by the name of Lyalya is struggling to get over a similar problem: She needs a husband in order to be accepted to some prestigious courses and eventually increase her chances of getting a well-paid job.

Such is the starting point of the story, which could make for a decent comedy, but the intrigue never goes anywhere: The viewers know from the very beginning that this will end up being more than the intended marriage of convenience.

The film is full of embarrassingly long scenes devoid of action that just provide a picture for the music. In one such scene, the heros drive to the marriage registration office while the tape of "Crossroads," the film's key song, is playing. The actors have nothing to do for about five minutes but trade furtive glances and sigh.

The choice of actors is odd. Anna Legchilova, who plays Lyalya, has two main skills in her repertoire - shrugging and sighing, and Leonid Yarmolnik, a popular showman who plays Alik, often overacts. The image he creates is sadly realistic: an old-timer pretending to be cool.

Yarmolnik's character is no doubt more of a loser than his prototype, Makarevich. The heyday of Makarevich's rock group, Mashina Vremeni, is long past, but the aging rocker has taken advantage of his popularity and remained in the public eye.

Although Alik is of the same generation as Makarevich and sings his songs in the film, the real-life rock star has tried to dissociate himself from the hero of "Crossroads." "[The film] is not about Mashina Vremeni and me. [Alik] sure is a bit like me, but he is lazier," he is quoted as saying in the movie's news release.

"Perekryostok" plays Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at the Small Hall of the Cinema Center at 15 Druzhinnikovskaya Ulitsa. Tel. 205-7306. Nearest metro: Krasnopresnenskaya. It also plays at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Khudozhestvenny Movie Theater, 14 Arbatskaya Ploshchad. Tel. 291-9624. Nearest metro: Arbatskaya.