There Is A Cursed Russian Rom-Com About The Crimea Bridge
Did you hear the one about the bomb that was even bigger than the blast that blew up the Crimea Bridge last week? It’s an execrable Russian rom-com that even the country’s critics treated as a war crime. Behold the comedy mess known as The Crimean Bridge. Made With Love! (Their punctuation, not ours.)
The Crimean Bridge. Made With Love! is a love story all right, but not the one it’s pretending to be. (Two men at the bridge’s construction site make a play for beautiful archaeology student Varya, as men at bridge construction sites are wont to do.) Instead, it was Vladimir Putin’s 2018 love letter to his sexy-sexy bridge, a multi-billion dollar project celebrating Russia’s connection to Crimea, the annexed peninsular it swiped from Ukraine a few years back.
How do we know it’s Putin propaganda? Let’s see. Written by the former head of state-funded TV channel Russia Today? Check. Budget made up mostly of federal funds? Check. Remaining dollars contributed by Putin’s business buddies? Check check check.
Now we suppose it’s possible to do an entertaining propaganda comedy about a construction project, but The Crimean Bridge. Made With Love! suggests otherwise. The film tanked hard at the Russian box office, earning back only about half of its budget of 154 million rubles.
But it fared even worse with critics, with several Russian movie sites (Rotten Turnips?) declaring it the worst movie of 2018 and one of the most terrible films of all time.
“It's all completely monstrous and unbearable enough to never remember the film again,” spat critic Yegor Belikov in the Russian edition of Afisha. The fact that it was a bunch of manipulative horse manure wasn’t lost on Belikov, who called it “perhaps the most bizarre, perverse and therefore unintentionally ridiculous attempt to spend public money on a film that was decided to be made on an important occasion.”
Noted Russian critic Anton Dolin says The Crimean Bridge. Made With Love! is not even good enough to be called propaganda, since then it would have to be clever. “Here we see something else - an insane phantasmagoria, extremely far not only from reality (that's okay), but also from the elementary laws of plot composition and plausibility.”
It’s got to be galling to Putin that Ukraine not only succeeded in destroying his beloved bridge but scored more effectively with politically propelled comedy as well. Servant of the People, a sitcom about the Ukrainian government, proved so popular that its star Volodymyr Zelenskyy (his spelling, not ours) was actually elected to lead the freaking country. Think Parks and Recreation but with Leslie Knope railing against rigged government failings and you get the idea.
Maybe Putin can learn a lesson here. If you want to do Russian comedy, leave it to the experts.
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Top image: 8 Rows Film Studio