Director Alexei Popogrebsky's grimly sardonic drama Simple Things (AKA Prosty Je Vesci, 2007), joins The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and other recent films that explore the mordant misery of everyday lives in contemporary Eastern Europe.
Tyro Sergei Puskepalis stars as Sergei Maslov, a self-centered, manipulative anesthesiologist in his 40s caught deep in the throes of a mid-life crisis.
Afraid of adding another member of the family to his small, decrepit flat, he spends his time nagging his pregnant wife, Katya (Svetlana Kamynina) to have an abortion - when he isn't out philandering with a sexy blonde at work.
He also extorts money from ailing patients with clever mind games, and eventually accepts a job from a questionable agency, that requires him to make daily check-ups on senior citizens.
Eventually, this leads Sergei into a tempestuous rapport with a severely ill, retired actor Vladimir (Leonid Bronevoy) who senses Sergei's economic desperation and strikes an unholy alliance with him: euthanasia, in exchange for a rare and priceless painting that Sergei can sell to generate much needed income. Popogrebsky also authored the original script.