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5 Russian comedy films with English Subtitles you MUST see

Learning a foreign language is a challenge, there’s a lot to take in - there’re new words, new grammar, new culture... But do not despair! After having done tons of grammar exercises and reading through “War and Peace” with a dictionary (I would say a large dictionary, but most of us don’t remember what paper dictionaries look like...), it’s high time to sneak into the comfort of your mother tongue! No, no, no... Just as you’re about to give in, think about a more relaxing and enjoyable way to press on with your Russian - yes! It’s watching movies! I would suggest, open YouTube and watch a Russian film with English subtitles.

It’s fun, it’s in context and it’s authentic!

Here’re my top 5 films that I would recommend watching if you’re learning Russian as a foreign language. All of the films are available on YouTube.

1. “What Men Talk About”
О чем говорят мужчины

It is a 2010 Russian comedy written and directed by Dmitriy Dyachenko, filmed in the genre of road movie based on the Russian play “Conversations middle-aged men have about women, movies and aluminum forks”.

The film starts with four friends getting ready to go to Odessa for their friend’s birthday bash and a concert of a famous Russian rock band ‘B-2’. Each character represents a stereotypical Russian man - a family guy, not-the-marrying-type, romantic one and a Casanova. They all have different outlooks on life - and yet they’re friends and they’re in the same car discussing philosophical and less so issues. They agree and disagree, laugh and cry. All ends well, the party is in full swing - friends make it there in one piece.

2. “Soulless”

Духлесс

It is a 2012 Russian black comedy-drama film directed by Roman Prygunov and based on the novel Soulless: Tale of an Unreal Man by Sergey Minaev. It was selected as the opening film of the 34th Moscow International Film Festival.

The film is about a successful young top manager Max Andreev who’s used to spending extortionate amount of cash on luxury cars, women and night clubs. He’s everything a man ever wanted to be and to possess. His life is a dream-come-true. But one day Max meets a 19-year-old girl named Yulia, a lower-middle-class university student, who has a "McJob" for a living, and who occasionally participates in various social activism groups of Moscow. Realizing that he wasted 10 years of his life away, Max decides to befriend Yulia, and together they live through numerous peripeteias, shaking and changing both of their lives for the better.

3. “Peculiarities of National Hunt in the Winter”

Особенности национальной охоты

Another great Russian comedy made in 2000. There’re other versions like “Peculiarities of the National Fishing” or “Peculiarities of the National hunt”. All are equally worth watching.

The story goes like this: Kuzmich and Semyonov feel bored at the 13th cordon until the season of "checks" and "inspections" begins. The first inspectors are from the Ministry of Forestry, followed by two more from the environmental department. The heroes even have to drink tea for a while since the environmental leader is a teetotal lady who also hates hunting. Later, Leva Soloveichik and General Ivolgin join the company. As always the company survives a lot of absurd but completely legitimate adventures. The philosophical story-parable compiled by Kuzmich about the Chinese hunter Hu Zhou who comprehends all the secrets of Russian hunting and tries to understand the Russian soul, is carried throughout the storyline.

4. “Yolki”

Елки

It’s a 2010 Russian comedy film directed by Timur Bekmambetov. The film takes place in 11 different cities in Russia and tells the story of a series of different characters whose acquaintance is purely coincidental. The characters find themselves in difficult situations which they can only escape if they find help, by miracle or through six degrees of separation. According to this theory all the people on Earth are connected through six handshakes. The characters in the film are a student, a thief and his connections with the policeman who caught him, a taxi driver in love with a famous pop singer, a businessman rushing to his beloved, two snowboarders.

It’s a feel-good movie for a relaxing evening in.

5. “Zhmurki

Жмурки

This is a truly hilarious comedy similar to the British crime-comedy “Snatch” by Guy Ritchie. Director Aleksei Balabanov, who directed Brother and Brother 2, uses Russia's most prominent actors. The film suggests that in the mean free-market streets of Russia in the beginning of 90s, the only real liberty was the freedom to kill.

The film opens with a professor lecturing a group of university students about the primitive accumulation of capital. The professor says: "Start-up capital is how everything begins - it makes it possible to start a business and multiply the initial investment many times over. The key question is how to get start-up capital..." By way of example, she begins to tell a story that supposedly took place a decade earlier during the socio-economic tumult in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The subtitles in this film are auto-generated, so not the best quality. It would definitely help if you knew some Russian.


Have you seen any of these films? What are your favourite Russian comedies? 

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