In snow-covered Moscow, a young Soviet woman named Katya (Rebecca Ferguson) works undercover as a spy for the United States. The murder of her parents by the authoritarian Stalinist Soviet Union marred her childhood. Their passing sets the stage for director, screenwriter and novelist Shamim Sarif’s new film “Despite the Falling Snow.”
Katya strikes up a flirtatious relationship with Alexander (Sam Reid), with the support of her actual boyfriend, Misha, to spy on him. Alexander is an important player in the inner workings of the Soviet government. As she gets deeper into the charade, trouble strikes when she begins to fall in love with Alexander despite still despising his idealistic communist beliefs.
This passionate love story of the ’60s unfolds while interspersed with scenes from the ’90s that foretell the couple’s doomed ending. Alexander, whose future self is played by Charles Dance, has at that point been living in America for 30 years as a successful businessperson after defecting from the Soviet Union. He had originally planned to take Katya with him, but she refused to come along. Alexander has been left tortured, heartbroken and wondering what has become of the love of his life in the meantime. He and his niece return to Moscow in an effort to bring Alexander some peace of mind after all these years and solve the mystery of her disappearance.
The film is based on Sarif’s own novel and sweeps the audience away in an old-timey spy romance. The ‘60’s storyline is the more engrossing of the two, while the parallel narrative in the ’90s seems disjointed at times. Oftentimes, it’s hard to believe these characters and their investment in this story.
On the other hand, it is easy to be immersed in the high-stakes plot, despite its odd romance. The threat of Katya’s treachery hanging over their relationship effectively creates suspense and thrill, and Ferguson and Reid’s chemistry compels the audience to root for the relationship’s survival despite knowing how the story ends. The communist setting contributes immensely to the intense stakes and the story about Soviet espionage and horrors of authoritarian governments is relevant to the scandals of U.S. politics today.
“Despite the Falling Snow” is a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half. Though the flipping between timelines makes the storytelling uneven, the film is worth watching for the thrills and romance that unfold in time, a setting much more exciting than any other.
“Despite the Falling Snow” will be released in theaters on Friday, March 31.
Email Anubhuti Kumar at [email protected]