Everybody Dies But Me



Cannes Film Festival, Critics' Week

Valeria Gaia Germanika, age 23, already has three documentaries to her name prior to securing a Critics Week berth for her debut feature "Everybody Dies but Me" ("Vse Umrut a Ja Ostanus"). Unfortunately, it's only in the few moments when her movie most resembles a documentary that her movie really comes to life. Story-telling does not appear to be Germanika's forte. This mawkish tale of three teenage girls gearing up for their first disco dance is unlikely to find many takers beyond Russia's borders.

We first encounter the 14-year-olds Katya, Vika and Zhanna as they are preparing to bury the latter's much-loved cat. Their conversation, ranging from breast measurements to thrilling, dangerous new words like "suck," is entirely unexceptional for girls of their age and background.

So is Germanika's development of her material as she shows us the girls pledging eternal friendship, rebelling against their parents and praying to acquire boyfriends in pedestrian dialogue that adds nothing to the sum of human knowledge. The announcement by their head teacher that the school is to stage a disco, the girls' preparations, and what happens on the day, form the core of the action.

Experienced hands, or perhaps female scriptwriters, could have drawn something witty or touching from a set-up like this. But the screenplay by Alexander Rodionov and Yury Klavdiev provides little sustenance. When Germanika forgets the story and becomes an observer, as when she dwells on the excitement of the girls and their friends in the changing room in the minutes before the dance begins -- notably the screams of delight when one of them reveals that she is wearing a thong -- the movie ignites briefly.

Production company: Igor Tolstunov Film Production.
Cast: Polina Philonenko, Anya Kuznetsova, Olga Shuvalova.
Director: Valeria Gaia Germanika.
Screenwriters: Alexander Rodionov, Yury Klavdiev.
Executive producer: Darya Khlastkina.
Photography: Alisha Khamidkhozdaev.
Editor: Yulia Batalova, Ivan Lebedev.
Production design: Denis Shibanov.
No rating, 80 minutes.