Mariya Belkina, Vladimir Friedman, Evelin Hagoel
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…utterly charming and profoundly moving…
The power of on-screen performance can never be under-estimated, with the ability of brilliant actors to truly embody their characters one of the real pleasures of cinema-going. If you want to bear singular witness to this, grab a ticket to the new Israeli-Russian comedy-drama Golden Voices and revel in the beautiful, finely calibrated work done by veterans Mariya Belkina and Vladimir Friedman. They make their bruised, flawed, confused but ultimately hopeful characters so ineffably, touchingly human and real that you will feel like you know them.
While unashamedly a performance showcase, Golden Voices is also a strong story of cultural dislocation, loneliness, and the desperate human need to connect. As well as its leads, it’s also a winning showcase for its Israeli-via-Russia co-writer and director Evgeny Ruman.
The film begins in 1990 with Russians Victor and Raya Frankel (Vladimir Friedman and Mariya Belkina) landing in Israel after the collapse of The Soviet Union. Famous in their homeland for providing the dubbed Russian voices for all of the major imported American films, Victor and Raya are immediately adrift in Israel, which has no use for their very particular skill-set. But this is an inventive, tenacious couple, and while it puts a big, heavy strain on their relationship, they bravely try to make it work in Israel, brushing up against video pirates, the phone sex industry, and curious suitors, all against the backdrop of a possible military attack from Saddam Hussein.
Witty, funny, sad and true, Golden Voices superbly portrays the difficulty of mid-life changes, and the pain of cultural displacement. But it does this with such a winning sense of goofiness that the film’s weighty themes and darker moments never bear down with crushing heaviness. Director Evgeny Ruman has a lightness of touch and sense of economy that keeps the film bustling along, as well as an obvious love of cinema that will delight movie buffs. A scene in which an impassioned Vladimir reminisces about how difficult it was to find the right voice when he was dubbing Dustin Hoffman in Kramer Vs Kramer is one of the film’s highlights. And it’s one of many in the utterly charming and profoundly moving Golden Voices.
Find out where Golden Voices is screening here.