The Man Who Surprised Everyone

The Man Who Surprised Everyone is a queer film out of Russian. A well-respected family man at the centre of his rural community is diagnosed with untreatable terminal cancer. He makes preparations for his family once he’s gone but his wife begs him to go for last-ditch efforts, even seeking out a traditional healer. This is an awesome Baba Yaga-looking pagan in a blackbird headdress. She performs a healing ceremony and tells him a folktale of how one man cheated death by disguising himself as a duck so Death could not find him. So the main character gets a dress and some makeup and begins living as a woman.

The main character doesn’t speak another line after this point, because the movie’s not really about having them justify if they are disguising themselves to hide from Death or if they are living the last few weeks of their life the way they’ve always wanted to. They don’t owe anyone, including the audience, any explanations. Instead what we see is that, without changing forby a dress and some lipstick, everyone’s reactions to them change. After fundraising money for their treatment, the whole community turns on them, beats them and drives them from the community. This movie does depict verbal, physical and sexual violence. But it does make the point clearly, rather daringly for a Russian film, that it is ridiculous that a little cloth and a bit of rouge should be enough for people who esteem you, respect you and even love you to think any differently or any less of you.