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Article

Taxi Blues

Posted on

Taxi Blues

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
Unrated
performer:
Piotr Mamanov, Piotr Zaitchenko
director:
Pavel Lounguine
author:
Pavel Lounguine
genre:
Foreign Language, Drama

We gave it an A

Set in the last years of the Soviet Union, the marvelous Taxi Blues centers on the love-hate relationship between Chlykov, a salt-of-the-earth cab driver (Piotr Zaitchenko) and Lyosha (the extraordinary Piotr Mamonov), an alcoholic, manic, and possibly brilliant jazz saxophonist. Their lives become hopelessly enmeshed when Lyosha stiffs Chlykov for a fare and the cabbie keeps his sax as payment. Both characters have great range: Chlykov, though an ignorant, fascist bully, senses the other’s talent and envies his artist’s life. To the credit of director Pavel Lounguine — this film won him the 1990 Best Director prize at Cannes — he allows Lyosha to transcend jazz-musician-as-victim (see Bird) and become a fully drawn soul with his complexities and contradictions; though Lyosha is ultimately a selfish user and abuser, we care for him. Not incidentally, Lounguine’s wide-screen compositions are well-served by the tape’s letterboxed image. A