Pu239 Year: 2006

Writer: Scott S. Burns (screenplay) & Ken Kalfus (short story)

Director: Scott S. Burns

Budget: $5 000 000

Gross: ? (Toronto Film Festival then went to tv)

timofey, a worker at a russian nuclear facility (paddy considine) gets exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. in order to provide for his family, he steals some plutonium and sets out to sell it on moscow's black market. he meets a bumbling criminal character with problems of his own who tries to help him in order to help himself.  welcome to PU-239.

i heard the film referred to as a comedy at one point, but i have to say that as the film began i wasn't seeing any comedy (dark or otherwise).  however, the way the film can be both highly dramatic and dark and yet also darkly comedic without it feeling at all jarring is one of its many strong suits.

its other strong suites are the acting, writing and directing of this little gem of a movie that premiered at the toronto film festival in 2006 and then ended up going straight to tv and dvd. 

i'm not sure exactly what year the film takes place in, but based on the cell phones they use, it looks like the 90's sometime, probably not that long after perestroika and the problems that arose from such a huge political shift and the emergence of the russian criminal element to the top of the heap.

while timofey is our hero, the film spends plenty of time with the three bumbling criminals (who all work for a much more powerful crime boss) and especially the one that ends up befriending timofey.  the script allows us to get to know them so that they are not just tertiary characters there for a few jokes (although they do have some good ones). 

this is really a great movie that completely surprised me.  it is funny without being stupid, it is touching without being sappy and it is dramatic without being corny.  what it is, is a gem of a film that really should be seen.