What a pleasant surprise this turned out to be. Never released theatrically, “The Quickie” comes billed as a suspense thriller but actually contains a very poignant drama. Monarch should repackage and rename it and try again.
A Russian mob boss named Oleg (sexy unknown Mashkov) is getting out of the business. He has just bought a mansion in Malibu for his wayward mother (Warren) and her fifth husband, a freedom fighter turned gigolo (Garcia). As the movie opens, it is New Years Eve, and he has gathered his family around him. This includes his brother Alex (Thomas), a hothead with a weakness for the ladies, whom Oleg hopes to turn power over to.
This is the kind of party where everyone drinks too much and hard truths are said, old wounds torn open anew and salt poured liberally. Oleg is receiving threatening phone calls, and he finds an empty envelope at the base of a Virgin Mary statue that had been delivered by mistake (it is explained that in Russia, when someone sends you an empty envelope, they want you dead). Oleg broods, plays with his niece and nephew, and gambles with his invalid friend (Stockwell) a writer who also serves as narrator for the film.
The morning after the party, Oleg finds cockroaches in his kitchen, and calls for an exterminator. What he gets is Lisa (Leigh), a charming blond who is unimpressed with the money he flaunts. Oleg finds himself drawn to her, and offers her $400 to sleep with him. She turns him down, but stays for tea…and dinner…and…
And that is all I will tell you. There is some suspense here, and I wouldn’t want to blow it for you. Needless to say, Oleg should be more cautious in his business dealings.
I’ll admit, when I first popped this in, I was put off by the whole package. The narration is a distraction, delivered by poor Stockwell like someone delivering a eulogy for a despised third cousin. And the camera work by Bodrov is atrocious; everything is out of focus, and there are several filler shots that just plain don’t work (the scene where the helicopter flies in the statue of Mary is a rip off of Fellini’s “La Dolce Vida”, for no discernable reason other than ripping it off.) Some of the actors are ill at ease in their roles (particularly Down as a Russian; after a few minutes she gives up and decides to be British).
But the two leads are very well done by Mashkov and Leigh. I was deeply moved by the loneliness Oleg was feeling, even when surrounded by his loved ones, and a scene where he plays Russian Roulette with a hooker for a witness is very disturbing. Leigh, one of my favorite actresses since she lost her virginity on a park bench in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” a million years ago, has some tricky notes to play as Lisa the exterminator, and she hits them all perfectly. The rest of the cast, a mix of old and new faces, do well.
All in all, solid work. Just don’t be fooled by the box art.