By Andrew Bondarev ‘22
Another chapter of Russian cinematic success has been ushered in through the work of Silver Spoon, a rough translation of the term “Мажор” (mazhor). Directed by Igor Tverdokhlebov and produced by Alexander Tsekalo, the show demonstrates incredible cinematography with a profound story line.
The plot follows the life and development of Igor Sokolovsky, played by the critically-acclaimed Pavel Priluchny. After a dangerous encounter with the police, Sokolovsky is ironically forced by his father to work in the investigative section of the St. Petersburg police.
As the only child of an oligarch, Igor is a reckless and immature young man that begins to waste his life away through countless dubious ventures. These activities are encouraged by his spiteful “friend” Stas, who leads Igor on a downward spiral. As Igor realizes the negative impact Stas has on him and everyone around him, he holds him accountable for his immoral actions.
Subsequently, Igor progresses through the ranks of the police force, and he cultivates a brotherly bond between himself and Evgeny, his coworker. These connections are formed while a conflict is created between him and Dania, another coworker that is coincidentally the boyfriend of their supervisor, Captain Victoria. A love triangle persists throughout the first two seasons between Igor, Victoria, Stas’s sister, and Ekaterina, who is surprisingly the daughter of Igor’s arch nemesis Arkady Ignatiev.
Moreover, the TV series accomplishes something that no other Russian show has been able to successfully do, which is to showcase an honest depiction of the upper echelon of the Russian Federation while maintaining focus on corruption and economic inequality.
The dark realities of 1990s Russia are demonstrated throughout the show as Igor Sokolovsky uncovers the apparent “suicide” of his mother in 1994, which was successfully covered up by his father and the main antagonists Ignatiev and his henchmen. The complex characterization and depth of the plot itself are stunning, as each episode is cohesively placed in a manner that enhances the viewers’ understanding of each character in the show. The deliberate use of cliffhangers along with the advanced editing techniques and color correction in place invigorate a constant interest in what could happen in the next episode.
In addition, the viewers’ perception of each character can change in an instant as Igor’s father is first loved, then hated, and finally honored by the end of the first season. Nevertheless, the second season carries the notion that Igor transforms into a business mastermind and a bonafide hero that is searching for personal truth and purpose through his distorted lens.
While he fights for the greater good as a cop and gains the respect of his colleagues, he still is struggling to find who he is and what he wants out of his work as a police officer. This idea takes the viewer back to the fourth episode of the first season, where Igor ponders the suggestion that being a police officer is simply not the right job for a previously reckless and lost member of the wealthy elite. However, the decisive factor that keeps him in the police force is the death of his mother and finding out who truly caused it.
In order to comprehend the show itself, one would have to ultimately watch it. Straying away from the story line itself, Silver Spoon solidified Pavel Priluchny’s spot as an up-and-coming Russian actor while proving that he can be taken seriously as a definite hero. He put forth a convincing and nuanced performance that illustrated his true capabilities as an actor.
No matter the country or background, great actors always reach a specific pinnacle of their artistic craft. For Al Pacino, there’s The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. Sylvester Stallone undoubtedly is a direct representation of the Rocky series, just as Michael B. Jordan headlined Creed. In Russia, Priluchny is the latest of a long line of Russian actors that reached their prime, comparable to Vyacheslav Tikhonov with his legendary performance in Seventeen Moments of Spring and Sergei Bondarchuk in War and Peace. The incredible performance of Priluchny is powerfully supported through the co-stars Karina Razumovskaya, who puts on a strong performance as Victoria, Alexander Oblasov as Evgeny, and Denis Shvedov as Dania. Moreover, Lyubov Aksenova joins the cast in the second season and truly enhances the personality and flow of the show as well.
All in all, Silver Spoon is effective in stating that it is not a pastiche of the post-80s television shows that flood Russian state-run channels NTV and 1TV with rigid story lines without any actual substance. The compelling plot of the show illustrates the cold truth of Russian economy and police force: the lower class acquiesces to a sanctioned and disregarded workforce while the wealthy elite expands their businesses through unethical means. Therefore, the series uses these principles to build a well-thought-out heroic journey of the protagonist in the midst of an endless internal and external conflict between Sokolovsky and his deceitful acquaintances, envious coworkers, and his own father.