Review: Moscow on the Hudson
Blu-ray: Moscow on the Hudson (1984)
Vladimir (Robin Williams) is a musician with a Russian circus, who, when the circus does a special performance in New York, decides to defect while in the middle of a last minute shopping trip in Bloomingdales.
It is here that he befriends 2 people that try and help him adjust to his new found life of “freedom”.
He meets Lucia (Maria Conchita Alonso), a stall worker in the store and an an Italian immigrant, by hiding behind her while in the middle of his defection in the store. She is empathetic to Vladimir as he tries to find his way in this strange new country, and of course they form a romantic relationship, but all does not go smoothly.
Also in Bloomingdales he is protected by store security guard Lionel (Cleavant Derricks); an African-American who lives in the city with his extended family and who offers Vladimir a roof over his head.
Moscow on the Hudson has no real central narrative which drives to a climax, it is more of a character driven piece charting Vladimir’s life as it was in an oppressed Russia, and then holding a mirror up to it as he discovers that the “freedom” found in America is not everything that he expected it to be.
Kudos to the filmmakers for having the actors speak a lot of Russian (which Williams took a crash course in and by all accounts did a very good job of, as well as learning to play the saxophone too) as opposed to talking English with a Russian accent. This grounds the movie a lot more, especially in the early scenes in a cold and depressing Russia, where news of toilet roll arriving in a store has people lining up around the block and fighting over it (much like a few countries worldwide recently, but for a much different reason!)
Williams gives a superb performance, eliciting laughs with nuanced delivery of lines and subtle body movements, a world away from some of his more over the top comedy performances. But Moscow on the Hudson is not a comedy, it is a drama focusing on the human condition, and this is where Williams always excelled; managing to raise smiles and belly laughs, while at the same time expressing pathos that will have you wiping a tear from your eye.
A snapshot of time showing a world that in some ways is so different from the one in which we live today, yet at the same time also exactly the same, this is a movie that draws you in from the beginning and doesn’t lose its grip until you’ve gone through all of your emotional responses by the time the end credits roll.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- 4K restoration
- Original stereo audio
- Optional 5.1 Surround audio
- Audio commentary with writer- director Paul Mazursky (2001)
- The Guardian Interview with Paul Mazursky and Robin Williams (1984, 94 mins): archival recording of the celebrated filmmaker and the much-loved actor in conversation with Derek Malcolm at London’s National Film Theatre
- Image gallery: publicity and promotional photography
- Original theatrical trailers
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of- hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Monica Castillo, a contemporary account of the making of the film, Mazursky’s notes on his research visit to Moscow, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies
If you want to buy anything reviewed on our site (or anything at all!), then please use the affiliate links here on our website and help support us. Thank you.