A regular apartment building with its tenants, household members, and kindly morons from the Housing Maintenance Office lives its regular life, — until a hot water fountain gushes out in the yard (due to a heat supply system accident)...
The film was awarded the Grand Prix of the International Film Festival in Las Vegas, USA (1990) and the “Silver Fishnet” Prize of the 1st Comedy Film Festival in Torremolinos, Spain (1990).
Source : www.lenfilm.ru
Commentaries and bibliography
A timeless, biting satire of perestroika, that centres on a number of highly peculiar characters and their increasingly absurd life in an apartment building that is rapidly falling apart. The roof caves in and the residents, having failed to solicit any official support, are forced to hold it up with Communist placards and their own shoulders while being fed vodka for their efforts. Capturing the horrors of everyday life, Mamin’s ridiculous, grotesque, beautiful film is a celebration of communal spirit struggling against absurd disaster.
<..> Fountain is more whimsical, satirical, and humorous, and towards its final minutes it even gets downright surreal. It is about the people who live in a housing complex where the elevator doesn't work, there are cracks in the supporting walls, and the roof is about to cave in.
Chief Engineer Lagutin is the one who has to deal with all of this, plus face the political pressures from community politicians, who have their own version of reality. That's not all: Lagutin's Muslim father-in-law arrives to visit from the desert. He doesn't speak any Russian, and so everyone ends up yelling at him to communicate. Lagutin gives his father-in-law a job as the building's plumber -- which turns out to be a big mistake, since Lagutin's father-in-law has spent a lifetime conserving every drop of water while surviving in the desert.
Various other wacky and bizarre characters inhabit the building, like the musician who finds his artistic inspiration by donning aviator's gloves and goggles and jumping off the roof held by a guide wire. There's another fellow who sells tulips on the black-market and grows them in his apartment, filling every nook and cranny. The building and its occupants soon begin resembling an asylum community, and one person even exclaims at one point, "I can't live in this madhouse anymore!"
It is very easy to see the crumbling building as a metaphor for Soviet society and to Westerners it helps drive home just how daunting a task Mikhail Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders face today in addressing the situation. At one point, the building manager nihilistically tells Lagutin that the system "all rotted away years ago" and would have collapsed except for the "stupid heroism" of idealistic young workers like Lagutin. This amounts to a wholesale indictment of 70 years of Soviet history and casts deep doubt on the possibilities of success -- and even relevance -- of perestroika. <…>
MANAVENDRA K. THAKUR, http://tech.mit.edu/