Moscow on the Hudson Review

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A Russian musician defects in Bloomingdales department store, the hub of capitalist chic. However, adjusting to American life is far more difficult than he could have imagined.


When Vladimir (Williams), a Russian saxaphone player, arrives with an orchestra to play in New York, he decides to defect in the middle of a major department store. Although he has left a country of queues and poverty, he finds that the Big Apple isn’t the Mecca he believed it to be, filled with racism, unemployment and violence.

Mazursky effectively portrays the media circus around the Russian’s defection and the bearded Williams is capable and surprisingly restrained as the idealistic Vladimir, accurately depicting his character’s bewilderment at the strangeness of New York.

It can be hard to remember a time when this sort of plot felt plausible - the Iron Curtain has long since come down and Russians have their own Bloomingdales. But as a fish-out-of-water comedy-drama, it works well.