Doctor Lisa (known as Доктор Лиза in Russian) is a 2020 biographical drama based on the life of Elizaveta Petrovna Glinka (Елизавета Петровна Глинка in Russian). The film follows Doctor Lisa, a beloved humanitarian and charity worker, through one day of her busy life.
The movie was directed by Oksana Karas and produced by KIT Film Studio. It has received multiple awards and nominations. Doctor Lisa won the Golden Eagle Award for Best Film Music (Yuriy Poteenko) and received the Nika award in two categories: Best Actress (Chulpan Khamatova) and Best Supporting Actress (Tatyana Dogileva). Doctor Lisa is critically acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, earning a spot in the top 250 movies of all time with a rating of 8.2/10 according to Russia’s KinoPoisk.
Doctor Lisa is currently available on Amazon Prime.
Synopsis of Doctor Lisa
The beginning of Doctor Lisa shows Elizaveta Glinka preparing for the day ahead. Glinka, often referred to as Doctor Lisa, usually remains busy with the demanding schedule of her Fair Care Foundation, but today will also be celebrating her thirtieth marriage anniversary. Accordingly, Lisa has freed up most of her day to spend time with her close friends and her sons, who have been arriving throughout the day to celebrate their parents’ marriage.
It is not uncommon for Doctor Lisa to receive requests for help from desperate patients throughout the day. While stopping by the Fair Care Clinic, Lisa feels compelled to help a young father procure morphine to ease the suffering of his terminally ill daughter. Lisa, who cannot say no to a person in need, agrees to help the man and his family, regardless of the potential consequences.
The movie subsequently follows Doctor Lisa as she attempts to obtain morphine for the sick girl while staying on track with her original schedule for the day. The girl’s condition begins to worsen, and the family still does not have any medicine. Time is running out as Lisa continues to take on new favors and errands. She must make a decision that could cost her everything.
The movie also introduces various interwoven plots. Viewers can look forward to scenes detailing the adoption process of one of Lisa’s sons, as well as a mysterious man’s pursuit of Lisa that lasts the entire day.
The hours of the day wind down as Lisa must find a way to solve all her problems and get back home to her loved ones. These final scenes exemplify how the contradiction between medical ethics and strict government oversight can create desperation and ambiguity when seeking adequate medical care. Tension is maintained throughout the film as the cheerful, selfless Lisa begins to crack under the demands of her job. By the end of the film, it is not difficult to see why Doctor Elizaveta Glinka is such a revered figure in Russia.
Viewing Doctor Lisa as an Intermediate Russian Language Learner
Doctor Lisa is a medical drama, so it may be challenging to understand the medical jargon present throughout the film. Additionally, the fast pacing of the film can make it hard to follow along. However, the dialogue is full of valuable words and expressions that will help intermediate Russian language learners sound more native. Below are some words and phrases to learn before watching the film.
- морфий (morphine)
- опиоидный обезболивающий (opioid analgesic)
- обезболивающий (painkiller)
- пациент (medical patient)
- препарат (drug)
- рецепт (prescription)
- аптека (pharmacy)
- адвокат (lawyer)
- уголовное преступление (felony)
- фонд (fund, foundation)
- козочка (little goat)
- усыновлять/усыновить (to adopt a son)
- мент (cop (slang))
As you watch, try to identify the above words as they are spoken throughout the film. It may be difficult to understand the movie without the assistance of English subtitles. Nonetheless, with context clues and prior knowledge, you will be surprised by how much Russian you will be able to understand! Watching the film a second time may be beneficial as you can focus more intensely on the dialog without worrying about the plot.
Analysis of the Film
Actors in Doctor Lisa have received acclaim for their performances, especially Chulpan Khamatova in her portrayal of Elizaveta Glinka, and Andrey Burkovskiy for his portrayal of Kolesov, a lead detective in the film. The chemistry between Khamatova and Burkovskiy is noteworthy. The unlikely duo makes the film equally emotional and thrilling at the same time.
The musical work of Yuriy Poteenko also contributes greatly to the film. The music succeeds in showcasing Doctor Lisa’s kind and energetic demeanor, her fast-paced life, as well as the difficulties that she endures throughout her career. It is no surprise why Poteenko won the Golden Eagle Award for his work; his music adds emotional depth to the most touching scenes and heightens the intensity of the more thrilling ones.
Doctor Lisa portrays the sad yet universal reality for individuals with serious medical issues who cannot pay for the treatment they need, and the ways they seek to overcome the shortcomings of the medical system. The film also depicts themes of the importance of family, as well as the public’s disgust towards the public health system.
Reviews and Criticism of Doctor Lisa
Esquire.ru praises Doctor Lisa for avoiding cliché while still managing to warm the hearts of audience members. The critic suggests this was achieved by adding elements of medical drama and crime thriller to this biographical film, a choice that prevents Doctor Lisa from being portrayed in perfect and unrealistic light.
Vsevolod Korshunov from The Art of Cinema commends the film for staying true to the melodrama genre, especially for its depiction of merciful, often sacrificial love, without needing a dramatic love story to keep the plot interesting. Korshunov specifically praises the character arc of detective Kolesov, who shifts his worldview from a fight against drugs to a fight against “the universal world of evil”.
Khamatova is praised for her depiction of Glinka from multiple perspectives. The inclusion of Glinka’s ‘annoying side’ and occasional jealously or disregard for her peers’ livelihoods may seem contradictory to the film’s core message, but it ultimately gives the character a satisfying character arc that makes Glinka even more relatable and lovable.
Watch the full movie here.
Watch the movie trailer below.
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