A down-at-the-heels poet is drawn into the gold rush of post-Soviet capitalism, with outrageous results, in the frequently hallucinatory "Generation P."
The big-screen adaptation of Victor Pelevin's 1999 cult novel was a hit in Russia, and though its satiric observations about consumerism and mass media are hardly earth-shattering for American audiences, the movie contains enough fresh insanity and inventive visuals to make it an amusing cyberpunk extravaganza for most of its protracted running time.
Set in early-'90s Moscow, with Boris Yeltsin at the helm of the newly minted Russian Federation, the film follows the strange doings of Babylen Tatarsky (Vladimir Yepifantsev) as a high-flying copywriter in the country's nascent advertising industry.
A few twisted turns from his "culturally relevant" Sprite campaign find him partaking in the deployment of 3-D doubles and virtual political leaders. As a colleague observes, "every politician is a TV show." And a botched product placement can lead to a fabricated assassination attempt.