LFF Review: Petrov’s Flu

Petrova and Petrov

On 25 December 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned from his position as the President of the Soviet Union. He handed over the reins of power to Boris Yeltsin and in doing so ended the era of communism within the sovereign state. The country’s progression towards capitalism was slow and painful, with food shortages and poverty becoming widespread. Today, Russia is more stable and yet under the authoritarian leadership of Vladimir Putin many of the same problems still remain. Petrov’s Flu takes us back to that difficult period of transition.

Petrov (Semyon Serzin) is an auto mechanic living and working in a city to the east of the Urals following the dissolution of the USSR. He is separated from his wife (Chulpan Khamatova), a librarian, but they both look after their son (Vladislav Semiletkov). As the New Year approaches, they all contract flu, which is running riot in Yekaterinburg. Journeying home he’s accosted by Igor (Yuri Kolokolnikov), an impish spirit who can commune with the dead.

Petrov Flu is a freewheeling and hedonistic fantasy epic which submerges itself in the myriad social and economic problems faced by the new Russia. Kirill Serebrennikov (The Student, Leto), who has a suspended sentence hanging over his head, adapts Alexey Salnikov’s novel with a theatrical flourish. Part descent into the underworld, part fever dream, Petrov’s Flu is a breathtakingly bold and effortlessly brilliant work of cinema. A twisted dark Bacchanalia of a film.  

Petrov’s Flu screens at London Film Festival.

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