Archive for the ‘Driver for Vera’ Tag

A Driver for Vera (Водитель для Веры) – Part 2/11

If you haven’t watched part 1, best to go there first: A Driver for Vera – Review and Discussion

Now, let’s continue our chat, focusing on part 2.

When Victor sees her pull a mickey out of her purse and take a drink, he’s clearly upset, maybe disappointed, maybe feels some sympathy for her, but probably nothing more than seeing a nice looking girl pull out a cigarette and start smoking, and you don’t like girls who smoke.

She very quickly establishes her character as a ‘bitch’, which he brushes off easily and casually. He’s far too easy going and content and happy to let much of anything bother him.  When she tells him, “Closer.”, he neatly pulls up to within an inch of the wheelbarrow, showing that he’s a good driver and confident in his abilities and perhaps a bit cocky.

Tough to stay exactly what he thinks and feels when he sees her walk to the house.  In the KinoKultura review he says: “All the more striking is the expression of surprise and disgust that appears on his face at the sight of Vera’s physical disability.  A crippling childhood illness has left Vera severely lame, able to walk only with great difficulty.  For young Viktor, and one might suspect for Pavel Chukhrai, beauty and its opposite are not simply surface attributes of the physical world.  They go to the core of human existence and inform our attitudes towards politics and morality, or, in this case, towards Russia and the contemporary course of Russian cinema.

I don’t think it was so much ‘disgust’ as surprise, along with a little “oh, gross”. It’s a natural reaction for everyone if they see something physically surprising and unattractive. Most people then get over the initial shock/surprise and then look past that to see the real person. I think most people, or at least I like to think most people look past physical appearances and see things as they really are.  Appearances are unfortunately very important in all societies.

Lida is still fully in her role of being the flirt. If you don’t believe it’s realistic, then you haven’t travelled to Ukraine, Indonesia, Hong Kong and other places.  It’s totally realistic.

Sure, Victor is then eavesdropping, but only because he was given a lamp to fix and he moves into the light to see what he’s doing.  He then leaves because he clearly feels uncomfortable listening in on their conversation.

The characters of Vera and the General, and their relationship with each other, then gets developed nicely. He clearly cares for his daughter, and you guess that he’s a single parent doing the best he can. He’s very traditional in his values and morals, naturally, but you sense that he’s fair and caring.  She’s the rebellious, angry daughter.

She then goes to her room feeling all the range of emotions that any girl would feel in her situation, and unplanned pregnancy is an all too common problem. Of course she’s not going to stab herself with the scissors, but she wants to, as most would, and many do go for the ‘back alley abortions’.

From Victor’s expression as they’re about to leave, you can clearly see the concern and interest he feels. He’s already seeing past the ‘bad things’, understanding where they’re coming from. His interest in her is renewed. He liked her from the moment he saw her, hit a little bump in the road, and is now back to his original feelings, and more.

In the car, chatting with the General, Victor replies that he plans to go to the Army Academy for top officers. That’s been his plan and ambition since long before he met the General and was transferred to work for him. Thus any future claims that he uses the situation for his own personal gain, aspiring to be an officer, are pretty hard to substantiate.   And he’s totally relaxed, cheerful and confident about everything. He’s certain that with time and hard work everything will work out.

You quickly get a feeling for who that bad guy is going to be when the General’s assistant asks Victor to report on everything that happens; what they say and do; including the General.  He’s not keen to do it, but he’s in no position to refuse.

In the scene with Vera and Lida, you get a quick sense that there’s already plenty of animosity between the two. Lida undoubtedly wishes she could be the daughter and not the maid.  She wants the finer things in life, naturally.

In the car, Victor is cheerful as always. No signs yet that he’s anything but a nice guy. And I never did find any signs to contradict that viewpoint. So for everyone who thinks otherwise, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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


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)