A passionately acted, beautiful story of love and heartbreak, Firebird is one of the very best gay romances in recent memory.
Based on a true story, young Soviet Air Force pilot Sergey (Tom Prior) finds his friendship with fighter pilot Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii) blossoming into more with friend Luisa (Diana Pozharskaya) caught in the middle and the watchful eye of Colonel Kuznetsov (Nicholas Woodeson) ever present. There are few movies out there that tell LGBTQ+ stories in such the well-acted, expertly constructed way as Firebird does, a film that should receive wide release. Prior and Zagorodnii bring their late subjects to life with such vibrance and tenderness, as well as internal dissection, exploring the timeless tale of forbidden love through a layered, touching story. This is not a story where all come out unscathed; the ending stirs up conflicting emotions as the imperfect characters face their new realities. It brought me to tears.
Director Peter Rebane has crafted a gay romance on par with some of the most commercially successful and accepted comparable films out there; the production value and intrigue is often unseen in the genre. While the events depicted take place in the Cold War era, it is important to shine light on the fact that the illegalities at the core of the film are once again in existence today in Russia. To be oneself in the country is near impossible and incredibly dangerous; lives are destroyed, torn apart, and even lost over it.
Firebird is one of the very best films of 2021 and a standout amongst its peers. This is a film that deserves to be seen by audiences far and wide.