One night in post-Glasnost Moscow, gruff cabdriver Shlykov (Zaychenko) picks up loudmouthed, drunken saxophone player Lyosha (Mamonov) and a simple fare turns into an evening odyssey. By morning, the musician has stiffed his none-too-happy cabbie to the tune of seventy rubles. Furious but undeterred, Shlykov tracks Lyosha down and forces him into indentured servitude to pay off his debt. As the two spend more time together, their relationship grows in complexity and they form an uneasy, unstable bond, one that leads to a surprising conclusion.
Both Mamonov and Zaychenko deliver memorable, complex and often nearly unhinged performances in this oddball tale of masculine bonding. Director Lungin knows just how to draw us in, as we observe two seeming opposites — a tough, anti-semitic cabbie and a dissolute Jewish musician — get thrown together by fate, and form the most unlikely of friendships. Along the way, pungent glimpses into Russian life during the turbulent, transformative early '90s make this a fascinating time capsule as well. This dark, unusual film may leave you with the blues, but in the best way possible.