Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 09, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

Children of the Revolution

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
F. Murray Abraham, Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Richard Roxburgh, Geoffrey Rush
genre
Comedy
We gave it a B+

Not since the literary tap dancing of Lillian Hellman has the rise and fall of Stalinist Communism been treated with such whimsical chutzpah. Novice Australian writer-director Peter Duncan posits a Monty Pythonesque world in which a fervent down under believer in the workers’ revolution (Judy Davis, going at it with gusto) is invited in 1949 to visit Joseph Stalin (F. Murray Abraham) in Moscow — and returns home pregnant with the Soviet leader’s love child. She marries a sweet, tolerant guy (Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush, acting perfectly normal). She gives birth to a boy, Joe. And the grown son (Oscar and Lucinda‘s Richard Roxburgh) turns out to be, shall we say, not what Mum hoped for. (Think Alex P. Keaton, the conservative son of Family Ties liberals, times a hundred.) Children of the Revolution bumps into a few dead spots along its irreverent way: Sam Neill, as an all-purpose informer, is a character without portfolio, and the uneven pacing sometimes resembles the music of Prokofiev during his Soviet period. But casual sophistication and wiggy Australian self-awareness give this product of unreconstructed bourgeois decadence its idiosyncratic charm. B+

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