A Driver for Vera (Водитель для Веры) – Watch Video and Discuss – Review

A Driver for Vera  (Водитель для Веры) is a great Russian movie that’s thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The great scenery of the Crimea is beautiful, and along with nice music and an enjoyable story it’s a film that can be watched and enjoyed many times over.  Enjoy it now, with Russian and English subtitles. It’s a great film to help you learn Russian.

I came across 2 other reviews, which really made me want to add my 2 cents, and by creating a post here, everyone else can add their opinions and comments also.  I’m also using it to learn Russian, so with this and other posts with the other parts of the video, I’ll be asking questions and I hope some of you can help me out.  I’ll also make comments and corrections of the English subtitles to help those of you learning English.  Sound good?

If you want to read the other reviews, you can see them here at KinoKultura and Russia Blog.

The film opens in Moscow, 1962, on a sunny summer day.  A young army sergeant is getting photos taken with his car, which is clearly his pride and joy.  You soon discover, if you didn’t realize immediately, that it’s not his own car, he’s simply a driver, but he treats it with all the attention of a young man with his first new car.  You also immediately get the feeling for his enthusiasm and optimism about life, and his complete enjoyment with simple things.  It’s a very refreshing outlook to have.

His name is Victor, and by coincidence he is chosen to be transferred to work for a General in the Crimea.  The one review (KinoKultura) then says: “Yet it quickly turns out that his primary function is to be the servant, supervisor, spy, and potential suitor of the General’s headstrong and prickly daughter, Vera.

Now I completely disagree with that.  As you can see in this part of the film, he was chosen completely by coincidence.  It was a spur of the moment choice while the General was looking for a reason for coming to Moscow.  How can there be a ‘premeditated’ or ‘ulterior’ motive for something that was entirely a spontaneous and simple decision?

He gets ‘recruited’ by the villain, the General’s ‘right hand man’ who’s actually working for the KGB.  Victor doesn’t feel comfortable with his request but since he’s new and of low rank, he agrees to write down everything he sees and hears.  There’s a pretty big difference between that and actually spying on someone.

There was also no intent for him to become a “potential suitor” of the General’s daughter, Vera.  He was simply being employed as a driver and when he picks her up and sees her for the first time, yeah, he thinks she’s very attractive, but so would most guys.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And he certainly never got any sudden ideas that she could be his ticket to a better life.

I had a great discussion with some friends in Ukraine regarding the main character, Victor, whether he was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (opportunist, social climber, etc).  I absolutely insist he’s a good guy throughout, but feel free to argue against me.

Also in the KinoKultura review: “The most serious critiques of the film have focused upon the degree to which the film’s characters lack in psychological verisimilitude.  Viktor seems too innocent, too upright, and too morally pure.  Savel’ev is too evil and Lida too outrageously sexual.

I’m a native English speaker and I had to look up the word ‘verisimilitude’. (verisimilar : probable, realistic)  Hey, it’s a movie! I thought the characters were pretty realistic except for the villain, who wasn’t so much “too evil” as a bit corny.  By western standards Lida was certainly “too outrageously sexual”, but if you visit Ukraine, you’ll see many such beautiful, confident women who aren’t shy.

I loved the scene when they meet and she checks him out and he does the same to her.  Totally real and honest.  It doesn’t happen in the west, sure. Men (usually) try to be discreet and women don’t want men to look (but do they really?), and western women look also but they’re really good at not getting caught.

It’s definitely not ‘love at first sight’ between them but there’s naturally a physical attraction.  When he sees Vera for the first time, there is a spark for him.  Hey, every guy has particular tastes in women, and Vera caught Victor’s eye, not Lida.

In the car, driving Vera home, you get another glimpse into Victor’s character.  He’s almost too good to be true with his high standards and morals, but I believe there are lots of guys like that, and I certainly identify with him.

I’ll continue this on my next post with the second part of the video.  Now let’s have a look at some of the expressions.

For more material to help you learn Russian (and learn English for Russian speakers) come visit our website: Learn Russian

A Driver for Very (Водитель для Веры)
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