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Russia, 2007, 115 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Comedy, Coming of Age, Drama, Foreign
Program: Contemporary World CinemaLanguage: Russian English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Anna Melikyan
Producer: Ruben DishdishyanScreenwriter: Anna MelikyanCinematographer: Oleg KirichenkoUS Distributor: IFC Films
Mermaid has been compared to Amélie for its visual richness—not to mention its oodles of charm, romance, and whimsy. This modern-day Russian fairy tale centers on a young, silent girl who can control the weather and make wishes come true.
When young Alisa is denied the opportunity to take ballet lessons, she makes a ten-year vow of silence and is sent to a special school, where she begins to realize her unique talents. Upon turning seventeen, she moves from her small seaside town to Moscow, only to fall immediately in love with a young man named Sasha—who has just jumped into a river in a suicide attempt. Over time, as the limitations of her wish-granting powers grow increasingly appearent, Alisa swears off attempting to alter reality. In the process, she rediscovers her voice—and begins to consider more traditional ways to, in Forster’s famous words, “only connect.”
Although director Anna Melikyan denies Mermaid is in any way a reworking of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, she does admit it was her favorite childhood bedtime story, “maybe because it is the only fairy tale with a sad ending.” And while similarities do exist, as they do with Amélie, Melikyan’s creation stands on its own—indeed all the more steadily for its influences.
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