This film, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar, is a turbulent romance set against the political backdrop of post-World War II Russia. Shortly after the war, Alexei (Oleg Menshikov), his wife, Marie (Sandrine Bonnaire), and their son travel to Russia from France to make a new life for themselves. But they quickly find that the situation in Alexei's homeland isn't quite as advertised and that they can't leave. Sacha (Sergie Bodrov Jr.) is a young athlete who lives in the same overcrowded apartment complex. Like Marie, he wants to escape, while Alexei decides to make the best out of an awful situation. Inevitably, Marie and Alexei grow apart as Sacha and Marie grow close, but one of these characters is harboring a secret that won't be revealed until the end. The film does double time as a thriller in that, at any time, any of these characters could be imprisoned or killed--including French actress Gabrielle (Catherine Deneuve). She befriends Marie during a tour of Russia and offers to help her and Sacha make their getaway.