Moscow on the Hudson (1984)

Moscow on the Hudson (1984)

“In America, almost anything is possible.”

Russian saxophonist Vladimir Ivanoff (Robin Williams) defects to America, and must adjust to his new life as an immigrant.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cold War
  • Comedy
  • Immigrants and Immigration
  • Paul Mazursky Films
  • Robin Williams Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “seriocomic pat on the back to the unfulfilled American immigrant” provides a “sobering view of America”, and admirably depicts both the heartache and the joy of being an immigrant in a land of hard-scrabble wealth and abused freedoms. Mazursky wisely shows both the positive and negative aspects of life in Soviet Russia and capitalistic America: back in Russia, Williams was surrounded by loving family and friends:

… but had to stand in line for hours to get even the most basic supplies:

In America, he struggles to earn a living, but is free to pursue his dreams.

While the story is hokey and contrived at times, there are many memorable moments, and Williams’s sympathetic performance makes this film highly recommended.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Robin Williams as Vladimir Ivanoff

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.


One thought on “Moscow on the Hudson (1984)

  1. Ultimately not a must.

    ~though the film’s first half (with its depiction of Russian life) is quite good; so good, in fact, that I developed ‘must see’ leanings. There is real atmosphere throughout, solid character development and tension and, since the writing is sharp and focused, we look forward to where the film will go.

    ~which, of course, is to America. Once Williams is ensconced, a typical Mazursky film takes over and the switch to a meandering, episodic tone is a disappointing segue from what was previously gripping. It’s not downright dull, and there is certainly welcome (and rare) insight into the immigrant experience. But, as noted, there’s a bit too much that is “hokey and contrived” (along with some lazy dialogue) – which also detracts from overall impact. (It’s also less-than-delightful to see Williams’ Vladimir assume the New York character trait of yelling at a neighbor – whom *he* has annoyed – to “Go f**k yourself!”)

    A shame, really, because Mazursky had real potential here.

    It’s somewhat refreshing, though, to see an early, less-mannered Williams performance. Though the latter part of ‘MOTH’ seems to flirt with implosion, Williams remains rather controlled and genuine.

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