The recently demobilized Sergei returns to his Moscow neighborhood after two years of military service. We see the aspirations and realities of his tightly-knit group of friends, as well as the everyday lives of other Soviet citizens.
Fluid, surprising, and offhand, I Am Twenty enjoys a tactile immersion in the passage of time; it has the melancholy of an elegy for the present. In the last phase of this extremely long (175 minutes) film, the main character receives a visit from the ghost of his father, a martyr of the Great Patriotic War. This scene came in for censure from Khrushchev, who took it as a message to young people that «There is no point in turning to their fathers for advice.” His interpretation is almost incredible, so heavily patriotic is the note sounded in this scene and in the film’s coda.
Heartbreak and disillusionment cast an autumnal glow over post-Stalinist Moscow as three young twenty somethings contemplate the gulf between the postwar generation and its wartime forbears. Shot in New Wave style on the streets, this is Godard if he lived in URSS.