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East/West (Est-Ouest)
East-West 1999.jpg
Directed by Régis Wargnier
Produced by Yves Marmion
Alexander Rodnyansky
Written by Rustam Ibragimbekov
Sergei Bodrov
Régis Wargnier
Starring Sandrine Bonnaire
Catherine Deneuve
Oleg Menshikov
Bohdan Stupka
Music by Patrick Doyle
Cinematography Laurent Dailland
Edited by Hervé Schneid
Distributed by Union Générale Cinématographique (UGC)
Release date
  • 1999 (1999)
Running time
124 minutes[1][2]
Country Bulgaria
Language French
Budget $9,150,000
Box office $9,424,599[3]

East/West (French: Est-Ouest; Russian: Восток-Запад) is a 1999 internationally co-produced film directed by Régis Wargnier, starring Sandrine Bonnaire (as Marie), Oleg Menshikov (as Alexei), Sergei Bodrov Jr. (as Sasha) and Catherine Deneuve (as Gabrielle). Authors of scenario and dialogue: Rustam Ibragimbekov, Sergei Bodrov, Louis Gardel and Régis Wargnier.


In 1946, Russians living abroad are invited back to the motherland and offered citizenship in the USSR. Among this group is Doctor Alexei Golovin (Menshikov), his wife, the natively French Marie (Bonnaire) and their young son. Atmosphere on the ship taking them to Russia is jovial, with drinking and singing, yet once they come ashore the Russian authorities separate them into two groups 'fit' and 'unfit'. A man is shot trying to run back to his father from who he is separated, and the Golovins begin to understand the situation they have landed in.

Marie is branded a spy, and her French passport is torn up. Alexei accepts a job in Kiev overseeing the health conditions in a factory and the family moves into a communal house. Marie briefly befriends the elderly housekeeper--who speaks some French--but this lady is quickly 'denounced' by the state. Her grandson Sasha (Bodrov), is left without a place when boarders come in and claim his missing grandmother's room, and Marie, guilty, invites him to live in the Golovin room.

Marie feels stifled and repressed and wishes to go back to France dearly. She attempts to go to the Soviet authorities and demand to be sent back, but she is stopped by Alexei. Public, noncompliance, he knows, could get them all killed. She also approaches a French actress, Gabrielle (Deneuve), and attempts to gain her help in escaping the USSR. Marie and Alexei grow distant as he acclimates to his role as the public health advisor and toes the party line, while she yearns for the West. Her budding friendship with Sasha, who is a champion swimmer recently thrown out of the local team, becomes a vehicle of possible escape. As she helps him train in order to regain his position on the team, they see an opportunity to go West for the European championships, and help them both towards liberation. Marie gains a job working to iron clothes for the military choir in Kiev.

Maria and Alexei have a falling out after he thanks the Soviet government and Marie is furious. Alexei reveals that he has slept with the neighbor, because Marie has become distant and the other woman 'looks at him differently' than the resentment he constantly gets from Marie. She throws him out and he begins to live in the neighboring room with the other woman.

Sasha wins the trials and is selected for the championship in Europe. After the selection, he spends the night with Marie. Yet soon after Marie's letters to her French family are discovered in his things and his coach warns her to stay away. He goes to a training camp by the Black Sea.

While abroad for training Sasha secures secret passage on a ship West and needs money. Marie furnishes the money and comes to that city with the military choir. The ship captain reveals he can't come close to shore, so Sasha attempts to swim 6 hours out to meet him in the water. Marie is brutally interrogated by the same KGB official she first met when she came to the USSR.

It is revealed that Sasha successfully escaped to the West and Marie is implicated and jailed for six years. Upon her release, her now-grow son and husband come to receive her. She reconciles with Alexei, and he promises her he still loves her. Two years later they are in a delegation to Sofia, Bulgaria and Alexei reveals to Marie he has arranged for her escape over the past few years by speaking to the actress Gabrielle. Marie and her son escape with Gabrielle to the French embassy. Alexei is arrested for complicity and sent to be a medic in a labor camp. He is not released until 1978.



Best Film
Best Actress: Sandrine Bonnaire
Best Director: Regis Wargnier
Best Music: Patrick Doyle


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