Now Playing: Vodka Lemon

Newsday, NY
Oct 8 2004

Now Playing;

[parts omitted]

3.5 stars: VODKA LEMON (U). To judge by the films that migrate south,
once you cross a certain northern latitude the futility of life is
softened only by absurdity, the result being comedy. What else can
you call a film in which a truck stop sells nothing but vodka, the
snow is as deep as the sorrows and the locals mist up over the good
old days of the USSR? In post-Soviet Armenia, Hamo (the charismatic
Romen Avinian), a 60-ish ex-soldier with a head of white hair (except
for that nicotine-stained mustache), awaits money from one son in
Paris while the other drinks his days away. He is slowly selling off
everything left since the death of his wife, whose forbidding face
haunts from her headstone at the cemetery. There, he meets Nina (Lala
Sarkissian), a beleaguered widow with a host of problems, and the two
begin an unlikely romance in a place where the times are so hard that
generosity becomes currency.

Writer-director Hiner Saleem,an Iraqi Kurd, borrows a bit from here
and there (the Finnish Kaurismäki this brothers, the Icelander
Fridrik Thor Fridriksson), throws in some magic realism and comes up
with a magic movie. 1:28 (adult content).In Russian, Armenian and
Kurdish with English subtitles. At the Lincoln Plaza, and Cinema
Village, Manhattan.