“Déjà vu” (low-budget review)

So I recently rewatched the delightful vignette “Наваждение” (“Déjà vu”) from the classic 1965 Soviet comedy Операция „Ы“ (Operation Y). And I was struck again by just how sweet and innocent and charming that piece is, in large part of course to the choice of Aleksandr Demyanenko and Natalya Seleznyova to play the two young students (Seleznyova floating joyfully down the examination hall steps in slow motion after acing her exams may have captured the essence of grown-up-but-innocently-girlish charm and beauty like no other five wordless seconds in film history). This is the only Yuri Nikulin film in my library in which I routinely skip the part that has Nikulin in it.

It got me thinking about what are the sweetest-without-being-saccharine love stories from movies. My short list: the Colin Firth / Lúcia Moniz part of the otherwise-awful Love Actually (for my birthday anybody who wants to give me a heavily edited Love Actually in which everything except that storyline has been savagely hacked out will have my undying gratitude); my personal favorite movie Return to Me; the unimprovable While You Were Sleeping; and the far-too-little-known Keanu Reeves / Aitana Sánchez-Gijón / Giancarlo Giannini film A Walk in the Clouds. (Yes, I love the long-form Pride and Prejudice and the Samantha Morton version of Jane Eyre, and Casablanca is Casablanca, but “sweet” is not the first word they conjure up, at least for me.)

Sadly, YouTube fails us here, as the complete “Déjà vu” is not there. But you can get Operation Y And Other Adventures of Shurik on Amazon with English subtitles. (They critically and inexplicably fail to translate the note Lida writes to test Shurik’s psychic powers, which says, “Find the teddy bear,” assuming I am correctly reading her handwriting as “Найти плюшевого мишку.” That’s a very important piece of information!) I think the first and third vignettes are amusing slapstick comedy, but “Déjà vu” is on a completely different level. Well worth the money in my opinion.

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