"A Friend of the Deceased" provides a deadpan introduction to the rough-and-tumble world of the new Ukraine, where Kiev has become a late 20th century Dodge City, ruled by high-flying entrepreneurs, the Mob and the black market. Anatoli (Alexandre Lazarev) is an intellectual whose academic background has become worthless in this new capitalist jungle. Although he tries to support himself, he simply lacks the skills to make it in post-communist society. To add to his sense of malaise, his wife Katia (Angelika Nevolina) has become a successful advertising executive, while their relationship has deteriorated past the point of no return. It comes as no surprise when Anatoli discovers that Katia is leaving him for another man.
After recounting his woes to his old friend Dima (Eugen Pachin), Dima suggests hiring one of Kiev's numerous contract killers to take care of the problem by getting rid of his wife's new lover. But Anatoli no longer wants to fight back. Depressed and adrift, he decides to commit suicide-- until he realizes he could hire a hit man to do the dirty work for him. With his own demise in mind, Anatoli contacts a killer through Dima, sending a photo of himself along with the first installment on the hit and arranging a time for the killer to find him in his favorite cafe.
When the appointed evening comes, Anatoli obligingly heads off to meet his fate, only to be politely kicked out of the cafe when it closes early for a birthday party. Finding himself strangely pleased at having cheated death by this strange turn of events, Anatoli goes out for a celebratory night on the town. He meets Vika (Tatiana Krivitska), an energetic young prostitute who takes an immediate liking to him, and after they spend the night together, Anatoli begins to think that living might not be so bad after all.
Unfortunately, the contract killer hasn't forgotten about his assignment, and Anatoli realizes that it's only a matter of time before the hit man hunts him down. He tries to call off the killer, without giving away the embarrassing fact that he's put a down payment on his own head, but it's impossible--once the plan has been set in motion, it cannot be stopped.
Desperate to survive, Anatoli decides to hire a second contract killer, to take care of the first. His education in the ways of this brave new world is about to begin...
Rich in irony, "A Friend of the Deceased" is both an engrossing human drama and a razor-edged portrait of a society in upheaval. "Before we had friendships," Anatoli's old army buddy tells him, "Now, we have business relationships."
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