Text: Dina Klyuchareva
It is incredibly difficult to tell about Matryoshka - and not because there is nothing to tell, but because of the high probability of giving away too much. The script for the new Netflix series is so tightly and neatly constructed that almost any detail will be unwanted spoilers. Therefore, we warn you right away - the less you know about the plot of "Matryoshka", the more interesting it will be to watch.
ATTENTION, text contains spoilers!
Misanthropic New Yorker Nadia celebrates her 36th birthday with a bohemian loft party in Manhattan. Nadia drinks, smokes, flirts and flirts, finds a friend for one night and takes him to her home. But after sex he quickly drives out and goes to a nearby mini-market to look for his prodigal cat Oatmeal. The cat is sitting in the park across the street, Nadya happily walks towards him - and then she is hit to death by a taxi. Nadia opens her eyes and again finds herself at the party: the same toilet, the same song, the same girls impatiently knocking on the door - and this happens again and again.
Whatever Nadia does, she continues to die: she falls down stairs and into cellars, catches the air conditioner on her head, chokes on a chicken bone. Sometimes she manages to live a day, sometimes ten minutes at the most. Nadya is trying to figure out what is going on and how to break out of the time loop: as a programmer, she meticulously and consistently explores all possible versions, both real and mystical (“What is this joint that I smoked with?”, “What is this loft, are there ghosts in it? "," Maybe I sinned powerfully and ended up in purgatory? "). But the first real chance for an epiphany appears only at the end of the third episode, when in a falling elevator, a couple of seconds before another death, she meets a neurotic Alan (Charlie Barnett, "Chicago on Fire"), who also dies over and over again.
“The universe is trying to fuck me, and I refuse to participate in this!” Nadya declares in one of the episodes, and at this moment “Matryoshka” can be easily correlated with the real biography of Natasha Lyonne. Despite the fact that Lyonne has been actively acting in films since childhood, her path to success was a bumpy road. The actress has several arrests behind her (for drunk driving and drug possession), heroin addiction, recovery in rehab and emergency open-heart surgery. Natasha's friends, actress and screenwriter Amy Poehler and director and screenwriter Leslie Hadland (Love Without Commitment, Bachelors), helped Natasha to put her inner breakdown and multifaceted talent into her work.
They began to think about the idea of "Matryoshka" back in 2014, and in 2017 they offered Netflix a project with materials for three seasons at once, pretty much fearing that they had gone too far and made the script too provocative. The channel's management immediately gave the go-ahead and budget for filming - and not only did not demand to smooth out the sharp points, but, on the contrary, convinced the girls to deepen the drama, add black humor and make the heroine even more grotesque. Lyonne, Poehler and Hadland quickly assembled a team (and an exclusively female one) and a cast, a good half of which were Natasha's colleagues from Orange Is the New Black: Dasha Polanko, Charlie Barnett, Jeremy Bobb. In one of the episodes, Chloe Sevigny appears - Lyonne's best friend in life, who helped her with rehabilitation after addiction treatment.
Amy Poehler came up with a surprisingly accurate title for the series. This is really a matryoshka: each new episode reveals another layer of truth, bringing viewers closer to solving the main question - why does the heroine continue to return on the same day? Oddly enough, her mission is herself, her task is to disassemble her inner matryoshka and literally get to the bottom of a little frightened Nadia somewhere deep inside.
The bad character, angst and nihilism of Nadia, with which she covers up her vulnerability, seem to be a direct continuation of the personality of Lyonne herself. The actress insists that if she has anything in common with the heroine, it is only a free attitude towards life in general. The show is not so much interested in how Nadia will live the next day, but in what she will understand about herself during this time. Series after series, layer after layer, Nadia tests the boundaries of the possible, peels off her social husks and lowers protective barriers in order to understand what is most in need of what she fears most - simple human intimacy and affection.
It's nice that Netflix has finally heeded the complaints of viewers about the lengthy episodes: "Matryoshka" was packed into eight capacious dynamic episodes and less than four hours. And, as is often the case with Netflix, Matryoshka is a hybrid of genres: fantasy thriller, mumblecore, melodrama and black comedy. Like Amazon's recent Homecoming series, all the characters and trivia in Matryoshka - fruits on the counter of the convenience store, bystanders on the street - are important narrative details that should be followed, because each of them has a use if not in next, then in the penultimate series.
Critics call Matryoshka “Groundhog Day on ketamine,” but this is far from an accurate definition. The series directly sends greetings to the legendary film and immediately builds on it - a new round of the time loop begins only after death and does not depend on the numbers on the alarm clock. "Matryoshka" is wordy, witty and shrill. Lively jokes give way to dark plot twists, and the delicate chemistry between the main characters does not slip into vanilla melodrama. The graceful and unexpected finale (directed by Lyonne herself) is best described by the English word bittersweet, which has no analogues in Russian. This is a happy ending with a taste of bitterness - the heroes find a long-awaited answer, close their gestalts, but do not leave together into the sunset and do not promise each other ponies and rainbows: "Do you promise that if I do not die, I will be happy?" "No man, absolutely definitely not, but I promise you won't be alone."