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Based on the life of Russian high-roller Boris Berezovsky, this ambitious 2002 feature tracks the meteoric rise of a young academic (Vladimir Mashkov) as he embraces capitalism during perestroika, makes a killing on the privatization of public services during the Yeltsin era, and becomes a kingmaker at the expense of his personal relationships. Though the story is adapted from a novel by Yuli Dubov, writer-director Pavel Lounguine has patterned his movie after the Michael Corleone narrative in The Godfather, Part II, with a number of set-piece assassinations and comparable doses of corruption, betrayal, and revenge. The scheming here isn't quite as Byzantine as in the Coppola film, but neither is it backed up by the rich characterizations Coppola established in The Godfather; the result is commendable as pop history but fairly opaque as drama. In Russian with subtitles. 128 min.

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