7.4

Firebird

At the height of the Cold War, a troubled soldier forms a forbidden love triangle with a daring fighter pilot and his female comrade amid the dangerous surroundings of a Soviet Air Force Base. #Risk everything, trust no one.
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CinemaSerf

at 01:42 am

Sergey (Tom Prior) is a young private in the Soviet army based in Estonia. With only a few weeks of his service left, he is designated to look after the newly arrived pilot Lt. Matvejev (Oleg Zagorodnii). Initially very formal, the two begin to bond over their enthusiasm for photography and vodka. Soon, the two are lovers and treading a very dangerous path - not only could they face up to 5 years in a gulag somewhere, but the stigma attached to there activities would be career ending for both. Luckily, his/their friendship with the colonel's assistant Luisa (a sparing but strong effort from Diana Pozharskaya) serves to deflect the attentions of the suspicious KGB major Zverev (Margus Prangel), but well and truly spooked, the two must take self preservation measures resulting in the younger man leaving and moving to Moscow to become an actor, whilst his erstwhile boss stays put and marries Luisa. Neither man can forget the intensity of their relationship, and it isn't long before Matvejev is in on an assignment and the two men are all but living together. The arrival of his wife and child finally brings things to an head; sadly one ultimately leading to tragedy for all concerned. This is a true story, but though set in the Communist era could apply just as easily to so many other, supposedly more free, nations who banned same sex relationships or people who were gay from their military. To his credit, director Peeter Rebane manages to create quite an uncomfortable sense of peril in the production at the start. We do genuinely fear for the two as they explore their feelings for each other, and genuinely fall in love. Prior reminded me a little of Jonas Nay from "Deutschland 83" (2016) (though his well developed torso doesn't always look like it belongs to his head!); and he performs really well, managing to hold his accent together for the most part whilst instilling in the audience a real sense of the affection he has for his friend which is, in as practical a way as the man knows how to, but very genuinely, reciprocated. This is a well paced and scored film with some pretty potent and engaging dialogue, but in the end it is about the two men demonstrating how to fall in love in dangerous times. Insofar as the (brief) sex is between two men, it is a gay film - but more than that it is about love - the two men and Luisa - and about survival - and is really well worth a watch.