“We’re a world of our own corruption.”
The crime thriller Tycoon: A New Russian from director Pavel Lungin is based on the life of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Plato (Vladimir Mashkov) is a charismatic ex-mathematics professor turned entrepreneur/gangster, who with a tight circle of loyal friends, becomes phenomenally wealthy. Plato’s meteorite rise to wealth begins with selling cars, and eventually he even buys his own television station to promote Lomov (Vladimir Goussav) a favoured (and bought) political candidate from Siberia.
Chmakov (Andrew Krasko), a prosecuting judge from the provinces, is the only uncorrupted character in the film. He’s interesting, hard to read, and dogged in his attempts to discover the truth about Plato. Tycoon does an excellent job of showing how corruption consumes all aspects of Russian society, and how crime, politics, and entrepreneurship blend into each other. At one point, one character compares Russian bureaucracy to the “many-handed god”–in other words just because you bribe one set of people, that doesn’t relieve you from having to bribe others.
The film begins with Plato’s assassination, and from this point, the film jumps back and forth in time over a 15-year period. These scenes begin with a chronological announcement, such as “ten months before Plato’s death”. Unfortunately, the film’s slick, episodic style makes it rather difficult to follow the story line at times. In Russian with English subtitles.