The film, Strangers (Chuzhiye), was released last month in Russia with the slogan, "The most topical movie of the year!"--presumably in reference to Russian-American tensions in the wake of the war in Georgia. A bizarre mix of over-the-top agitprop and equally over-the-top melodrama, Strangers is indeed quite topical in its own way--for what the movie itself and the events surrounding it reveal about the state of Russian culture and attitudes toward the United States. But what it reveals is not what you might expect--and probably not what the creators of this film expected, either.The only sympathetic American characters in the movie are a gay couple, "Mike and Bill":
The two remaining members of the motley crew--a gay interracial couple, Mike and Bill--might look like an exception to the parade of grotesques. Despite Mike's occasional vanity and snippiness, the men seem kind-hearted, decent, and clearly devoted to each other. But that's not how they are meant to be seen by audiences in Russia, where nearly half of the population still opposes equality for gays in areas other than marriage. Apparently, Grymov's idea is to show--according to the synopsis on the film's official site--"how an unnatural relationship can become a norm in the eyes of modern society." The group's acceptance of Mike and Bill is thus intended as an indictment of American political correctness. At the end of the movie, a young native boy who has innocently befriended the duo is horrified and repulsed when he peers through the window and sees them in bed, kissing. (Interestingly, the linkage of "American" and "gay" is part of the mindset of hardcore America-hating in Russia: the preferred anti-American slur of recent years, pindos, bears a strong resemblance to pidoras, the Russian equivalent of "fag.")
The movie has apparently bombed at the Russian box office. Young concludes:
Their best chance to make some money with this movie might be to package it to U.S. audiences, as a straight-to-DVD cult hit. With a little luck, it just might become the Plan 9 From Outer Space for our time.