So soaked with sentimentality, bogus emotion and cliche, to watch it is to feel as if one is being pelted by a spongiform romance novel soaked in alcopop, this St Petersburg-Paris set drama is the very embodiment of the Russian notion of “poshlost”, a kind of corny vulgarity that Nabokov dissected at length in his book on Gogol. It’s a depressing sign of the times, along with the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit, that this rubbish was one of the highest-earning films in Russia recently. Former Eurovision contestant Dima Bilan plays with equal woodenness two different characters in two different time periods, who both fall in love with Svetlana Ivanova’s simpering blonde princess and her descendent.
During the 1917 Russian revolution, they are separated by wars and pesky, evil Bolsheviks. In 2016, they are separated by their inability to navigate the Parisian Métro system, which is at least understandable. By Russian standards, this allegedly had a huge blockbuster production budget, and yet it looks surprisingly gimcrack and shoddy. At least there are giggles in store watching it tick off the romantic movie tropes, including not one but two scenes where our lovers run towards each other in slow motion.