Main Cast: Michalina Olszanska, Lars Eidinger, Luise Wolfram
Set 20 years prior to the 1917 Great October Revolution (the centenary of which coincided with Matilda’s scandal-filled release in Russia), Matilda portrays Tsar Nikolay II’s passionate affair with the Mariinsky Theatre’s Polish-born prima ballerina, Matilda Ksheshenska, against a backdrop of a flawed Romanov court in all its domed (doomed), sabred, sceptred glory.
Emperor-to-be Nikolay (and most of the male members of his entourage) spend much of their time frequenting the local ballet school in St.Petersburg, where ‘Nicky’ succumbs instantly to Matilda’s seductive charms.
Director Alexey Uchitel’s choice for Matilda, Polish actress Michalina Olszánska, – who joins us in Kilkenny to present the film – is perfectly cast as she plays ‘an unconditional object of desire’ (Esquire Russia), dancing and teasing her way into Nikolay’s bed. More controversial locally is Uchitel’s Nikolay II – German actor Lars Eidinger, unknown in Russia.
While the film’s narrative at times is fragmented, there are plenty of reasons to watch this movie, including a magnificently terse, tense performance from Ingeborga Dupkanite as Nikolay’s disapproving mother, Maria Fedorovna.