Film Review by FIORE
RUSSIAN DOLL is a film made primarily to showcase female lesbian characters, according to the producers Ed Gaffney and Suzanne Brockmann. They have an affinity for writing for the LGBT community because their son Jason is a homosexual and working in theatre. They want to share his trials and tribulations. Frankly, I can’t see how there would be many; afterall, the theatre population is eighty percent homosexual, indicating Jason should be in his element. Nonetheless, if all films with an LGBT theme were presented in this fashion, I don’t think they would alienate the majority of film viewers.
RUSSIAN DOLL is primarily a story of family abuse, plagiarism and murder spanning some thirty years. The lead detective on the case is Viola Ames, played by Melanie Brockmann Gaffney (the producers keeping things in the family). She is a lesbian, but her sexual orientation is secondary to the movie’s plot. You can insert any type of character for her role, and the story still works. In this manner, RUSSIAN DOLL is not preachy or sanctimonious about homosexuality. That helps the movie work. It also features a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE type ending, which provides a neat twist.
In addition to producing, Gaffney also wrote and directed RUSSIAN DOLL. It is his second feature since 2013’s THE PERFECT WEDDING. The prepublicity for RUSSIAN DOLL brags the producers opted to use cast and crew who were either members of, or sympathizers to the LGBT community. It shows. The movie plays very much like an Indie film.
The acting is stiff. Lines are often read well, but with no emotional content. Everything seems forced, especially with the producers’ daughter. A scene were two detectives confront an uncooperative lawyer is proof. The scene is crucial to the story, but is awkward and badly staged.
The audio sounds as if it were recorded in a tin can. The dialogue echoes and sound effects are not simpatico with the actors. Perhaps, instead of ensuring the technicians were members of the LGBT community, the producers should have hired more skilled crew members.
The story is decent, but the production values of RUSSIAN DOLL immediately state it is not a Hollywood production. It’s not bad for a view, provided you lower your watching standards. Gaffney shows promise as a writer. If he and his wife concentrate more on selecting quality cast and crew, rather than those who agree with their personal ideologies, they could produce high quality entertainment.