Synopsis: Set during the first half of the 1970s, "The Vanished Empire" depicts a love triangle between two young men and a girl who study at the same Moscow university. As they argue, make up, and face their first disappointments and victories, the country they love undergoes irreversible changes. The latest film by celebrated Russian filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov ("Zero City," "Jazzman") is a cinematic love letter to a unique moment in the lives of the Soviet youth. [Synopsis courtesy of Kino International]
Round-up: Ronnie Schieb of Variety calls "The Vanished Empire" "unsentimental, almost antiheroic snapshot of a disaffected lost generation never billboards its end-of-a-civilization vibe, though that vibe d... oes color its bittersweet nostalgia over youth wasted on the young." As for the prospects of the film, Schieb says, "the Kino release may be too understated to make immediate arthouse waves but will likely linger long in DVD archival memory." Writing on Slant, Bill Weber explains, "The historical nuances of 'Vanished Empire' may be harder to gauge for foreign audiences, particularly the significance of its fixed-camera '30 years later' epilogue, but despite its bells and whistles of pop-political nostalgia, the lost-world aura of the film's clumsy youths provides an inexorable dig into Brezhnev-era diffidence." "Most of 'The Vanished Empire''s appeal (as its title less suggests than shouts) is its evocative production design and some unique Brezhnev-era set pieces: When Sergey wants to buy a Pink Floyd record for Lyuda, he heads to a park where nervous young men sell their pop music "contraband" in hushed voices. But the dead-end on-again, off-again courtship between Sergey and Lyuda bores (there's no reason for the unstoppable horndog to worry so much about his obviously nonexistent future with a girl who has her shit together), and their standard adolescent travails take up most of the screen time," complains Vadim Rizov in the Village Voice. Kevin B. Lee, in Time Out New York writes of the conclusion, "the moralistic finale feels tacked on to the vivid celebration of Commie teen lust."