Viktor Sergeyev's melodrama "Grekh. Istoriya Strasti" [Eng. Title: Sin. A Story of Passion] is about a love affair between a monk and a young carefree woman.
The film is told in flashback, after a German TV crew descend upon a Russian women-only convent, to investigate a sensational murder in Hamburg involving an ex-monk and a prostitute. We'll learn that the prostitute, Nina (Olga Ponizova), lives in the convent after being acquitted for the murder of Seryozha (Aleksandr Abdulov), the son of a wealthy family, and who until recently was a monk of the Russian orthodox church.
Nina, a carefree and earthy girl, first met Seryozha at a bus station in the middle of the night, and after seeing a group of thugs beat him up, comes to his rescue. She also madly falls in love with Seryozha, to the extent that she would even offer sex to a passing motorist in return for a lift back home with the wounded Seryozha. But Seryozha has a dark past - he'd been a bad boy, having also ratted on friends after an incident with a girl. His friends are out to get him, and his father had tucked him away at a convent to keep him away from danger. When the father learns about Nina, he sends Seryozha off to Jerusalem to keep him away from her. Nina follows him there too, after 'selling' herself at an auction for some travel money. They become lovers and travel to Hamburg, and when they run out of money, Nina takes to prostitution. Seryozha resents this, but nevertheless makes no effort of his own to change matters. Things get to head one evening and Seryozha shoots Nina, upon which she takes his gun and kills him in return...
It's an interesting premise - exploring moral values from a physical and spiritual perspective. But unfortunately, this isn't a serious study, and everything is played out in a simplistic manner. Life isn't like that, and there are several shades between the black and white morality that this film tries to represent. What it lacks in characterisation, it has tried to make up for in creating a foreboding atmosphere, but never quite succeeds. While the cinematography is well done, the soundtrack is clichéd, bordering on the cheesy. The locations have an appeal, but the only thing that keeps us vaguely engaged through the 108 minutes is the expressive face of Olga Ponizova - too bad nothing much comes out of it either. But I might sit to watch this drama only for her - there are other serious films for a more challenging discourse on the subject of morality.
The Nudity: Olga Ponizova
There are several instances of partial and frontal nudity from pretty Olga Ponizova, the most memorable of which is a seaside love scene that runs for over three minutes.