Colossus: Film Review

Whatever satirical points the filmmaker is trying to make are buried in this self-indulgent cinematic ego trip.

Mark Hendrickson's documentary depicts a con artist's attempt to create an artificial Russian rock band.

Presented by the aptly named Lackluster Entertainment, Colossus represents a colossal ego trip for its director/screenwriter/producer/star Mark Hendrickson. This stupefying dull mockumentary purports to explore themes of media manipulation and political propaganda, but whatever points it’s attempting to make are buried amidst the ponderous goings-on that will result in a quick exit from theaters.

The would-be cinematic auteur plays the central role of Clark Larson, a British ex-pat who’s spent the last 17 years as a successful con artist in corrupt, post-communist Russia. Before bowing out for good, he decides to embark on one last, grandiose plan to do “something positive.” It involves the creation of an artificial heavy-metal rock band which he hopes to tour across the country while making a film documenting the process, thereby apparently demonstrating how easily people can be fooled.

That he likens his efforts to those of the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution is emphasized by an opening pixilated montage of Russian history since Lenin, scored to the music of Frank Zappa.

The ensuing complications—Clark’s running out of money, manipulating everyone around him, getting into trouble with a Russian mobster, unwisely hiring a junkie to write the songs, etc.—fuel the convoluted narrative. That much of the proceedings were improvised by the largely non-pro cast is woefully evident in the listless, unfunny dialogue and the torturously slow pacing. And such would-be surprises as the revelation about the secret behind Clark’s thick Cockney accent fall flat.

Shot in St. Petersburg and Moscow locations including a Khrushchev-era underground nuclear bunker that’s been turned into a private club, the film at least delivers a realistic visual portrait of its milieu. But much like its central character, everything else feels wholly inauthentic.

Opens July 19 (Lackluster Entertainment)

Cast: Hark Hendrickson, Polina Belenkaya, Ksenia Khairova, Valery Novikov

Director/screenwriter: Mark Hendrickson

Producers: Mark Hendrickson, Alla Iefimova, Alexey Matskavich, Ksenya Melnikova

Executive producers: Gregory Mckean, Dmitry Vokoff, Bill Byers

Directors of photography: Gregory McKean, Thomas Bartlett

Editors: Roman Arriola, Mark Hendrickson, Gregory McKean

Not rated, 134 min.