Scriptwriters: Inna Rabkina and Boris Rabkin
Director: Eduard Gavrilov
Cast: Andrey Martynov, Leonid Kayurov, Oleg Efremov, Marina Levtova, Andrey Kharybin, Lyubov Sokolova, Natalia Gvozdikova, Anton Tabakov
If this film did not exist, it would have been worthwhile to imagine it. At the end of the "stagnant" 1970s, the canonical model of the plot about the re-education of a hardcore individualist by a collective (of course, a labor one) emerges here for the last time. It emerges - and is flipped 180 degrees.
The orthodox critics of the 1960s, who interpreted the "star boys" from the point of view of not so much aesthetics as the criminal code, would have been pleased with this. The owner of a "hippie" hairdo, a fan of the Beatles and other ideological pestilence, who treats his comrades arrogantly and chews super-hard-to-find chewing gum, has committed a criminal act: not only did he sell things at a profit from under the counter, but he dealt in imported records. “Will someone like this work at the machine? He will gobble gum. And scotch whiskey and soda as well. And he’ll sell drugs. A spiritual drug! By the way, I would give a ten-year prison sentence for it, like for heroin or marijuana," - an old worker says indignantly in the film.
Curving his thin lips, this Slava Gorokhov mockingly draws his words and talks about everything with a grin. In the slogan from the wall newspaper “Working makes a person smart”, he changes “sm” to a “f”. “Take this humorist out of the group, I don’t need him”, - rightly says the chief engineer, a young specialist who enthralls the best group of students at the vocational school with tempting prospects of the coming era of electronics.
In the businesslike world of cute and faceless faces filling the conveyor-belt products of the Gorky Film Studio in the 1970s, a 22-year-old VGIK graduate Leonid Kayurov in the role of Slava Gorokhov looks like a glaringly foreign object. A young man from the 19th century portraits, reading and breathing out Hamlet’s soliloqui and a chapter from Bulgakov's novel (the meeting of the Master and Margarita) is a natural irritant of a homogeneous environment. And he must be supplanted by it. The conflict arises already at the level of the appearance, of actors’ types. It is no suprise that Andrey Kharybin, who had since childhood played almost a dozen neat little pioneers at the Gorky studio, played the role of Viktor - the leader of the group, an implacable opponent of Slavka: a high forehead, regular, and rigid facial.
This is how the plot is built: the black sheep lowers the high performance statistics of the group, interferes with the career prospects of the collective as a whole - and so the object of re-education turns into an object of bullying.
Basically, “Last Chance” is two films in one. In addition to the story of Slava Gorokhov, there is the story of the master of the group, a young but wise mentor who is gradually filled with sympathy for the boy and, together with the Komsomol organizer Nadya, tries to help him. In the sense of narrative in direction, this storyline is constructed quite blandly - especially in contrast to the hero’s drama, which stands on its own, like him, in everything. He is a "star child" in the second generation, so to say. Played by Oleg Efremov, Slava’s father is not so much a drunken workman as an idealist of the sixties, abandoned by his wife because of his inability to "get comfortable in life". It turns out that the son, while loving and pitying his father, had remained with his mother after the divorce, seduced by the prospect of material wealth – and has been tormented by hatred and contempt for himself, a traitor. "A huckster and a bastard" is not what the collective says about him, it is what he says about himself. And the father, shocked by the cruelty of the group towards his son, having had some port wine for courage, will come to the vocational school and will start giving out oranges, crying out: "Children, have pity on each other!" And he will mistake the clownish round dance, started around him by “the children", for the realization of the ideal of universal brotherly love, and will smile blissfully.
The blow that the hero will direct at this moment at Viktor, the main initiator of the bullying, realizing that now he will not avoid prison colony, is a gesture of atonement not only to his father, but also to his ideals. There is nothing to lose now: the son also has no place in the world of the Stagnation people of action.
The performers of such roles are "supplanted" from cinema just like their heroes – some ended up in emigration, some died, cruelly and ridiculously. Leonid Kayurov at the peak of his career joined the clergy.