Screening as part of The Russian Resurrection Film Festival touring around Australia The Russian Mafia aka 'KGB' for hunts Vladimir Vysotskiy a bard that specialises in anti-establishment songs and concerts.  Suffering from cancer of the colon, he struggles to meet concert bookings, practically dying to meet the demand.  It’s a fairly generic tale of deceit and bribery, commonplace among thrillers of today even if it all did (somewhat) happen.

Director Pyotr Buslov has tried his best to bring about this infamous Russian character, sitting him in the makeup chair for six hours each day to make him as close to the real person as possible.  Sergey Bezrukov does a decent job in the process even if he’s mostly walking around feeling bad about himself.  The support cast are fun to watch, meandering about like the circus clowns the KGB so often insult each other with.  His girlfriend Oksana’s whole purpose seems to be as a drug mule, almost as if Buslov didn’t care for her character at all.  She is seen yearning and worrying for his health a couple of times but she’s ultimately just a plot device and nothing more.

Despite starting very strongly Vysotskiy – Thank God I’m Alive ventured off into nothingness only briefly coming up for air. There’s something of a moral ending and a lesson learned but it’s too manipulative, too forced for any sense of sympathy to be aroused.

Like any good bio film you’ll want to learn more about the people concerned and maybe you’ll youtube a couple of songs but that’ll be it.  Vladimir Vysotskiy is an interesting character and is to be admired but there’s no sense of greatness really bringing his story to life.

[rating=2] and a half

Nicholas Brodie - follow Nick on Twitter here: @fodusempire

Director: Pyotr Buslov

Written by: Nikita Vysotskiy

Starring: Sergey Bezrukov, Oksana Akinshina, Ivan Urgant