On the picturesque beach of the Thai island, an old man in a vest (Mikhail Gomiashvili) comes to his senses. On the back of his head is a bloody stain, no shoes, no documents either. The hero does not remember who he is and where he comes from, and does not immediately understand what part of the world he is in. To earn at least some money, he participates in a competition for eating red pepper. The contest ends in a brawl, the old man is transported to the police station and assigned to community service to the owner of a small hotel (Evgenia Dmitrieva).
Soon a mysterious alien with a grumpy character takes the whole island into circulation. He makes friends with a Thai fisherman, intimidates local crime bosses and organizes his tourism business. Hidden talents are discovered almost every day: he can make the perfect dinner, provide first aid, and even play the ukulele. The hostess is secretly submissive, but diligently pretends that the new employee annoys her. Meanwhile, the memory is gradually returning to the hero. He imagines snowy landscapes, an old wooden house and a man (Vladimir Mishukov) who says something about the upcoming departure.
Thailand, with all its popularity among our vacationers, is not the most obvious location for filming a Russian film. Too far and too exotic. There is a great temptation to fall into something like the program “Eagle and Tails”, and when the singer and TV presenter Alina Astrovskaya appears in the frame, it seems that this is exactly what will happen.
But “Like New” is not a film about tourists, but about people. The screenwriter Konstantin Charmadov came up with this story for his father Xenophon, dreaming of giving him an unusual old age, if not in life, then at least on the screen. The prototype of the protagonist did not have time to see the finished work, but, as the credits say, he read the script and liked it. In this short remark, the whole difference is between cinema and reality, between a fairy tale and a past.
It also contains the main advantage of the film. The fact is that Russian cinema has ignored mature characters for years. Upon reaching a certain age (think about the border yourself), these people move into the category of secondary heroes: comic old women, wise old people, someone's grandparents. It is as if life at 60+ or 70+ is ending and can only serve as a backdrop for the exploits of the young. In European cinema, for example, everything is completely different; films like “Love” by Michael Haneke or “In the Ninth Heaven” by Andreas Dresen are possible there.
Evgeny Shelyakin’s painting, of course, is more modest. This is a comedy melodrama with beautiful landscapes, funny verbal skirmishes, dancing and the inevitable happy ending. To the director’s honor, her unpretentious radiance does not seem overwhelming for a second; such shameful spectator cinema in Russian cinemas is always not enough. The leading actor Mikhail Gomiashvili, a wonderful Georgian actor and the son of the all-Union beloved Ostap Bender Archil Gomiashvili, copes with his party just brilliantly, especially considering that he himself is only 58, and he plays the hero at least 7-10 years older.
There is another important point. For obvious reasons, Soviet cinema ignored the topic of the clash of cultures and civilizations: where will the films about the difficulties of translation come from if the film crew cannot leave for the capitalist country? Modern Russian cinema easily crossed the geographical border, but mentally remained in the past. The paintings in which the foreigners appear are still based on the opposition of the slogan “he is Russian, explains a lot” with “well-stupid” Zadornovsky. We are more savvy, God is with us. If you think about it, the position is deeply chauvinistic.
In the film "Like New" this great-power superiority is not even mentioned, largely because the hero by nationality is a Pontic Greek, a representative of a persecuted people who have lost their land. Yes, he loves to grumble, and basically decides matters with the loud cry “Your mother!” But he does not look down at people mumbling something in a language he doesn’t understand, but as an equal on equal terms and in some kind the moment begins to understand them without words. Peace, friendship, coconuts.
Author: Ksenia Reutova