Jane Callahan visits Moscow to help her father secure backing for his motorised deforestation device when she reaches across a cultural chasm and falls in love with army cadet Andrei Tolstoy.
Although this straggling historical drama has the feel of a weighty Russian novel, the scope of the story and the sheer scale of its visual splendour leave little room for the telling details that have characterised Mikhalkov's previous period pieces. The thematic imprecision and uncertainty of tone might have been overlooked had there been even a flicker of emotion between the doomed lovers.
But there's much more than a cultural chasm between army cadet Andrei Tolstoy (Menshikov) and Jane Callahan (Ormond), an American gentlewoman in Moscow to help her father, Douglas McCracken (Harris), secure financial backing for his motorised deforestation device. It's patchy but polished, and the antics of Alexei Petrenko's bibulously amorous general are most diverting.
The scope of the story and its imense visual splendour leave little room for any human touches or emotion, which leaves the film lacking in soul.