Run Time: 127 minutes
RUTHLESS ROMANCE's Checkhovian-like characters, lyrical cinematography and affecting Gypsy music convey the romantic atmosphere of a doomed love affair. The film explores the plight, in 1889, of young Russian women who are almost unmarriageable for lack of a dowry. An unmarried woman from a poor family has few options open to her for a livelihood. Larisa (Larisa Guseeva) is the town beauty whose singing and dancing enchant all the men around her, but there is only one, Yuli, who loves her enough to marry her without a dowry. However, Yuli is a dull postal worker, just another fly buzzing around the popular Larisa. He is no competition for his his rival, the dashing Sergei (Nikita Mikhalkov), whom we first see dressed all in white, charging up on a white horse at Larisa's sister's wedding to a foreigner, dockside of the Volga. It is love at first sight for Sergei and Larisa. The owner of a small fleet of freighters, Sergei would be a perfect match for Larisa and the two begin to court. Suddenly, Sergei leaves town on business without saying goodbye or being heard from until a year later. Meanwhile, tired of the humiliation of being a "piece of goods" on display at her mother's parties, Larisa resignedly accepts Yuli's marriage proposal. Sergei and two of Larisa's admirers conspire to ruin her engagement dinner and get her to join them at a boat party. Larisa chooses to follow her true love only to be devastated by Sergei's cold betrayal. The drunken Yuli manages to catch up with the boat - and Yuli is an expert shot. . .
based on the novel "The Girl Without a Dowry"
Larisa Guseeva, Nikita Mikhalkov