The Admirer


The Admirer film still

Russia, NTV-Profit, 1999, 93 minutes, Color
In Russian with English subtitles
Director: Nikolai Lebedev
Screenplay: Nikolai Lebedev with Ol'ga Nagdaseva
Camera: Sergei Machil'skii
Sound: Gleb Kravetskii
Music: Mikhail Smirnov
Art Direction: Alim Matveichuk
With: Marina Cherepukhina, Elena Safonova, Sergei Garmash, Nina Usatova

The heroine of the film is a spirited, precocious thirteen-year-old girl named Lena whose parents have just gotten divorced. To help her now-single mom with the bills, and to prove to both her parents that she is grown up, Lena takes a job delivering the evening mail. One night Lena is accosted by some hooligans and rescued by a mysterious stranger in a trench coat and fedora. The anonymous Samaritan becomes not only Lena's secret protector and admirer, but the violent instrument of her revenge against those who have offended her, including her father's new girlfriend. Even after she realizes that her admirer is none other than the "maniac" who has been terrorizing the city, Lena's immaturity and naïvely romantic worldview prevent her from ending the deadly game until it is almost too late.

In his first two features, Snake Source (1997) and The Admirer, Nikolai Lebedev staked out a generic territory that had been essentially non-existent in Soviet cinema: the psychological thriller. His heroine in The Admirer represents an unusual demographic for protagonists of that genre: a pre-adolescent girl, and the trauma that sets her on a collision course with the darkest elements of human nature – her parents' divorce – is atypical for the thriller, as well. In this regard, Lebedev's film combines his obvious formal knowledge of and affection for Hitchcockian suspense with the native cinematic traditions of the Soviet "child film" (detskii fil'm) and the post-censorship social-problem film. The director's choice of heroine was also likely influenced by his view of the suspense film's primary effect on its consumers: "to transform the viewer into a child, under the complete control of the magic of cinema." The polysemious symbolism – the terrified innocent as a metaphor for both the individual in a hostile world and the filmgoer in the theater – works as long as the camera wisely stays focused on Lena and her psychological predicament.

Nikolai Lebedev

The Admirer film still

Born in 1966, Nikolai Lebedev graduated from the journalism department of Moscow State University in 1991, and from the scriptwriting and film criticism department of the State Filmmaking Institute in 1993. He worked in television in Moldavia, and later headed the Russian-American project Sesame Street on Russian TV. He has also co-authored several detective novels. In 2002, Lebedev was awarded a State Prize for his WWII film, The Star.

The director is currently at work on a Russian-US co-production, another thriller, with the working title ExLife.

1997 Snake Source
1999 The Admirer
2002 The Star
2004: Prophets and Gains Debut Films at Pittsburgh Filmmakers STW [СТВ] Film Company Pygmalion Productions NTV-Profit Film Company

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