Muscovite Lives, Entangled in History

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MOSCOW — The Meyersons of Moscow are not oligarchs or ex-K.G.B. agents, gangsters or alcoholics. They are a pair of public school teachers who have little in common with the stock characters often depicted in tales of this land. They disdain Communism, but warmly recall childhoods in the 1970s. They bristle at what they believe Vladimir V. Putin has done to Russia, but don’t deny that things are far better now.

Their ambivalence about their country’s standing, nearly two decades after Communism’s fall, is at the heart of “My Perestroika,” a new documentary that burrows into the lives of five Muscovites who came of age in the twilight of the Soviet Union.

Russian history has long been dominated by big personalities — Mr. Putin, the prime minister and former president, is just the latest — but this film largely shuns them, choosing instead to examine how ordinary people have endured the turmoil of recent decades. “My Perestroika,” which opens Wednesday at the IFC Center in New York before a national release, offers a chance to eavesdrop on kitchen table conversations as Russians ponder what has become of their world.

Interviews with the five subjects are twinned with images from home movies, newsreels and party propaganda, an arresting visual scrapbook of the Soviet period....

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