Genre: Action, Drama, Romance
Directed by: Yuriy Vasilev
Starring: Dima Bilan, Svetlana Ivanova, Aleksandr Adabashyan, Aleksandr Baluev
Where would we be without love? That perennial favourite steps forward once again in The Heritage of Love, a glossy romance split across revolutionary Russia and modern day Paris. With a century between time periods, there’s plenty of opportunity to revel in period design, lap up tourist shots and fawn over handsome leads. It’s a shame there’s very little romance left at the end.
Proceedings open in 1914 on the estate of Russian nobility. An attractive family, bathed in bright summer colours, snap themselves posing in a new car. Nearby, crisp-uniformed military men squabble in the woods, leading one of them, Andrey (Dima Bilan) to heroically prevent a disaster. He’s witnessed by Vera (Svetlana Ivanova), clad in flowing white and clutching flowers. After nearly running her over with his horse, love commences.
It will be a rocky road, largely because the country is about to plunge into World War I, followed by the overthrow of the Tsar, and eventual rise to power of the Bolshevik party. The colour palette switches to dull shades of grey as men march through muddy fields and poor ruling class types are terrified by the angry mob. In and out of this step Andrey and Vera, crossing paths and sliding away from each other again.
Meanwhile over in the present, another Andrey, also played by Bilan, is dispatched to Paris to value an ancient Russo-Balt car, the very same from the opening scene. He’s ordered to undervalue it by an unscrupulous gentleman. Along the way he meets Vera (Ivanova again), a dead ringer for the noble woman from the past, and thus a modern love story gets under way as well.
As the narrative switches between past and present, it feels like a checklist is being rigorously followed. There’s a placid score bombarding soapy scenes, a little bit of slow-motion dancing, and more jigging in the rain than is necessary by any standard. The leads certainly look the part and at that their input ends. Both Bilan and Ivanova are left to stand around gazing at each other, holding blank expressions that are supposed to be filled with longing. There’s no passion between them, or between anyone, nor is there much in the way of humour, drama, or any kind of excitement. It’s a lifeless experience watching different generations fight for their unconvincing love against the winds of history.
As a throwaway romance, The Heritage of Love provides diversion with attractive period finery and an undemanding arc. Just don’t expect to care much about anything that happens.