Petrov’s Flu, a hallucinatory voyage through post-Soviet Russia
In LETO, Kirill Serebrennikov advocated creative freedom and emancipation by nostalgically exposing the emergence of the Russian music scene in Leningrad after the death of Leonid Brezhnev. Under house arrest since 2017, the playwright and filmmaker continues to demonstrate that artistic freedom is inalienable by working on his most ambitious film: Petrov’s Flu, freely adapted from Alexei Salnikov’s phenomenon book, “Petrovy v grippe I vokrug nego”.
Set in a city plagued by a flu epidemic, Petrov’s Flu narrates the hallucinatory journey of Petrov, who is weakened by a high fever and finds himself led by his friend Igor on a long, drunken wander. Between dreams and reality, Petrov’s childhood memories gradually resurface and merge with the present.
Written like a symphony, the film draws us in to a whirlwind of madness by exploiting plot repetitions dealt with under the prism of disease, just like what is unfolding in the mind of the flu-ridden character. In an unprecedented stylistic chaos, the long sequence shots transport the characters from one place to another, from one era to another, and interweave memories of the Soviet period with perceptions of present-day Russia.
“This film was an attempt to express what Russia is to us through empathy, by sharing our childhood memories, telling the audience what we love and what we hate and sharing our loneliness and dreams.”
In this story, where the flu is symptomatic of a delirious country, Kirill Serebrennikov paints a dark portrait of a disorientated society, buried beneath the ruins of a fallen empire.