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Movie review: 'Hipsters'

Valery Todorovsky's film is a vibrant portrait of rock 'n' roll culture in 1955 Moscow

October 28, 2011|By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • A scene from "Hipsters."
A scene from "Hipsters." (Leisure Time Features,…)

Raucous and vibrant, "Hipsters" (Stilyagi) is set in 1955 Moscow, where a group of pre-rock 'n' roll young people fight to wear what they want, listen to what they want, dance how they want and live the lives they want with every bit of the same rebellious passion as the music that's just around the corner.

Buying their bright, colorful clothes on the black market, they must try to stay one step ahead of the drab, scissors-wielding government enforcers who look to tone them down and keep them in line.

Director Valery Todorovsky keeps the film moving by balancing its more serious undercurrents with a liberating sense of fun, buoyed by musical numbers — there are musical numbers! — big, bold set-pieces around carnivals and jazz clubs and bopping through the streets.

Fans of Baz Luhrmann's high style should delight in the film's distinctive production design and close-eyed appreciation for a fine-fabric, well-cut suit and skirt hem that hits just so.

The spirited young cast includes the luminous Oksana Akinshina, best known for her title role in Lukas Moodysson's devastating "Lilya 4-Ever," who still lights up the screen like few actresses in the world.

The film's joyous finale tosses aside strict narrative unity for a spirited number that nods to "Grease" in its salute to punks, hippies, hip-hoppers and virtually every other rebel youth tribe, declaring "hipster style conquers all fear."

With this rowdy, emotional film, Todorovsky proves the point with utmost sincerity.

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