Russian actor-turned-director Vuriy Vasilev’s second project The Heritage of Love attempts to combine war-torn Russia during the Revolution and modern day Paris, but sadly misses the mark at every turn. As we are introduced to Andrey (Dima Bilan) and Vera (Svetlana Ivanova) two love stories emerge, separated by three generations and 100 years.
Initially, such a concept seems fresh and exciting as we start piecing the modern romance with the traditional – both believable, but that’s all they are. The somewhat familiar face of our lead actor as Andrey may have you racking your mind as to what else you have seen him in until trusty Google informs you its The Eurovision Song Contest – explaining the model-equse ‘Blue Steel’ stares and over the top delivery of lines.
This tale of love and war mainly resides in 2016, where our protagonist Andrey goes to Paris to buy the oldest Russian-made car, the Russo-Balt. Whilst meeting with the lady he is selling to, he runs into the beautiful and playful Vera who he immediately becomes infatuated with. As he desperately tries to look for Vera after she vanishes into thin air it becomes clear their paths were meant to cross. Meanwhile, we see Andrey’s great grandfather fight in the Russian Revolution where he falls in love with a rich young woman, Duchess Vera Chernisheva, just in time for the Civil War to subside.
This film follows the classic formula of so many war features. When all hope seems to be lost, a hero of sorts comes and saves the day which is exactly what happens here. A tried and tested formula that undoubtedly works, but the cocktail mixed by writers Doroshkevich and Pogodine-Kuzmina makes way for copious amounts of plot-holes and repetitive story-telling. In terms of style, however, The Heritage of Love most definitely succeeds as there can be no denying this film is beautifully shot. Both love tales bring bright, lavish tones to their chapters despite the sombre mood of Russia at the time.
The political aspects explored here bring a very anti-Soviet viewpoint and the details of such on-goings are in their own right interesting, although beyond cheesy moments of romance override such themes. Perhaps if Vasilev replaced actions with words we would have been spared many a schmaltzy moment between our two lead characters. Such melodramatic performances simply makes one think that such a narrative would have been better suited to the stage, rather than the silver screen. Of course, each tale has endearing moments that evoke a swell of emotions as our two lovers fall into each other’s arms – yet after the third time, this becomes nothing other than cringe-worthy.
Unfortunately, The Heritage of Love isn’t Russia’s answer to Pearl Harbour or indeed The English Patient. There is just about enough to hold your attention here, but the overstated performances and stereotypical soundtrack are more than enough to encourage eye rolls and a few seat shuffling dances. If you want the Russian Revolution with one hell of a rememberable romance, it might just be best to stick with Dr. Zhivago.