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Review: Throwback ‘Why Don’t You Just Die!’ brings back pulpy memories — Russian-style

Aleksandr Kuznetsov in the movie "Why Don't You Just Die!"
(Arrow Releasing)

The blackly comic Russian neo-noir “Why Don’t You Just Die!” will probably appeal most to younger genre fans who’ve never seen the bloody, irony-drenched crime pictures that flooded multiplexes in the late 1990s after Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” — or those who feel nostalgic for that era.

Writer-director-editor Kirill Sokolov positions his ultra-violent plot and its shocking twists as a glancing commentary on contemporary government corruption, though this is ultimately just a movie for anyone who likes grubby pulp thrills but needs some detachment or cultural context so as not to feel guilty about it.

The MVP of the film’s small ensemble is Evgeniya Kregzhde as Olya, a cool seductress who persuades young hood Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) to kill and rob her dirty policeman father Andrey (Vitaliy Khaev), by claiming that her dad abused her — and that he has a stash of ill-gotten loot. As it turns out, neither Olya nor anyone else in this story is completely on the level.

Sokolov spills a lot of these characters’ secrets through flashbacks that give each one’s perspective on the events leading up to the moment when Matvey walks into Andrey’s ritzy apartment with a hammer tucked into the back of his pants. The movie carefully builds to a gory standoff, with multiple surprises.

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“Why Don’t You Just Die!” is too cartoonish and glib to have much to say about Russia or about genre films in general. But it is stylish and snazzy — a confident throwback to the knowing exploitation pictures of yesteryear.

'Why Don’t You Just Die!'

In Russian with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Playing: Available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play


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