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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Outlaw *

Starring: Viktor Tarasenko, Evgeny Schwatrzman, Gleb Kalyuzhnyy, Liza Kashintseva, Vitaliy Kudryavtsev

Director: Ksenia Ratushnaya

Country: Russia

In Russia, the production of “LGBT propaganda” is punishable by law. Regardless, Director Ksenia Ratushnaya has openly made and released Outlaw in her home country, becoming the very first Russian film to depict a transgender character.

Nikita (Tarasenko) is secretly in love with the most popular boy in class (Kalyuuzhnyy), who is the dangerous leader of a violent gang. Inserting himself into this clique, he is watched by the Outlaw (Kashintseva), a rebellious and ethereal figure whose mission is to tempt everyone onto a darker path. Meanwhile, in 1985, a trans nightclub dancer (Schwartzman) is wooed by a Soviet general (Kudryavtsev).

An anarchic punk picture, this is a messy film with disparate narratives that bear very little relation with each other. Nikita’s story has nothing to do with Nina’s and they do little to compliment one another. There’s a comparative juxtaposed contrast between Russia under Communism and Russia under Putin, but little else. Add to that some extremely abstract sequences and it’s a dense film that is showing a lot but saying very little.

The movie is drenched in violence and toxic masculinity. Russia is presented as a cruel place where one must attack, maim and kill to survive. Like Bruce LaBruce finally found an Art Director, it’s a nasty film that revels in its counter-culture without any real justification for its existence. And considering so few LGBT+ movies see the light in Russia, it’s a shame one of the few that has is so incomprehensible.



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