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original title: 5 TERAPIA

2017, 74 min., Russian

adaptation of asylum diary human rights insane jail junkie Odessa vicious circle

CATEGORIES : Drama, Debut
COUNTRY: Ukraine



Stas Dombrovskiy, Victor Brevis, Alina Putyshyna, Elena Dashevskaya, Sonya Kulagina, Alexander Osetinskiy, Konstantin Miskarov, Natalia Buzko, Lesya Verba, Vadim Kazakov, Alexander Vereshchagin, Andrey Lavrikov, Yuriy Parsakov, Igor Yeremichev, Alexander Ilvahin, Ilya Karpov, Nickolay Lepeshkin, Artem Matovitsev, Stas Podlipskiy


Director : Screenplay : Аlisa Pavlovskaya
Cinematographer : Мaria Perkunova
Producers : Valeriy Kalmykov, Victor Vilhelm



based on a true story
all the characters are NOT fictional

Stas Dombrovski. He spent twenty years of his life with substances, eleven comma six behind the bars. His criminal record counts seven convictions. He has been living twenty years with HIV and hepatitis. In 2007, he was liberated from a high security prison because of ill health. He has been off drugs for three years. He managed to transform all this experience into creative work: he is a writer, a poet, an artist and an actor. Over the last few years, he had a stake in every informal culture event of Odessa and in most such events in Kyiv. Not only he managed to play himself in a featured film but he convinced the cream of the artistic society to join him. Together with a group of like-minded people, he created the Club KPD but when the group achieved success and glory, he told them all to fuck off and called himself a hermit. One of the city theatres stages a play featuring a character based on him. He published the book Yellow Room. He first created a Hedgehog in the Fog studio and later messed it up. It is highly dangerous to meet him in person – not only he will surely infect you with a creative idea but he will also help you to put it in action. To save the editorial board from Dombrovski’s personal intervention, we are publishing his text on the pages of our newspaper. We sincerely hope it is (not) for the last time.


The film is based on a series of novels by Stas Dombrowski, a former drug addict and criminal who learned that he was HIV positive in 17 years, and plunged into absolute self-destruction for next two decades. Only on his deathbed in prison therapy, knowing that he would die in two weeks, Stas understood that he wants to live more than anything in this world.


Our answer to the Dallas Buyers Club or a real story of death and revival of a Ukrainian drug addict.
I congratulate you on having a three-piece suit: tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV.
Among the many concepts of cinema there is one that revolves around a ‘dying’ character. No matter if the reason is a mortal disease, a mental health disorder, a criminal case or a total ill luck, the usual goal is to show how low a weak-spirited person can fall. At the same time, the traditional Hollywood happy end suggests that one should never lose hope. The Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyers Club by Jean-Marc Vallée can be named as a hallmark film of this genre. It seems that Ukraine has now a counterpart, the 5th Therapy.
The protagonist of the story, Stas Dombrovski from Odessa, was lucky enough to have a talent for writing but bitterly unlucky with the circumstances of his life. At the age of 14, he becomes a drug addict and enters the world of crime. Together with Stas, we will fall to the lower depths, until a therapist in the prison medical unit no. 5 says to the guy that he is going to kick the bucket in no more than two weeks. But the 35-year-old young man decides otherwise.
Now imagine that Stas is a real person who has experienced all the above. He described his experiences first in the book Yellow Room, and then in the film 5th Therapy where he played himself. Together with the talent of the director, Alisa Pavlovskaya, it made possible to film an outright social drama. And while many of the film scenes border on documentary, it has nothing repulsive in it, passing near the edge of a complicated festival film.
The protagonist managed to overcome the bad habit only when he found himself on the brink of a precipice and felt lust for life. The revival of the guy and his subsequent life are much less convincing than the story of his downfall; as for the final part, it is abrupt and contorted. Nothing surprising about that, as the author himself is unable to provide a clear formula of his success. Stas does not know what turn will his life take from now on because he did not manage to get rid of all his demons.
However, the best thing about this story is that Ukrainian enthusiasts managed to make a film that is not inferior to the Russian and Western social dramas. The high quality video and a perfectly tailored soundtrack amplify the story very well, thanks to the Maria Perkunova the cameraman and to the sound control supervisor Oleksii Sanduli.
The 5th Therapy makes us live through the failure and the ‘second chance’ with lots of details but without making it boring. Most of characters are not professional actors but real drug addicts and prison inmates playing themselves, making the result look like a confession of a friend rather than a feature film.
Moreover, Derzhkino did not allocate a penny for the film, it was rather filmed by enthusiasts. However, such films do not necessitate a large budget. The Ukrainian cinema has managed to conquer one more summit: it made a quality film, raising important issues. And it is agreeable to know that they allowed an independent film into cinemas, if only on a small number of screens, that they believed the society is ready to talk on complicated issues.


By The Odessa Review

This picture is about the Odessan poet and writer, former prisoner and, according to his own confession, a recovering drug-addict, Stanislaw Dombrovsky. He’s locally famous for his poetry, turbulent personal life and controversial civil activity. The film depicts some real life events of the poet, mainly focused on the struggle against his addiction. Stanislaw plays himself in the film — as almost half of the characters do.

All the tickets were sold out — fortunately, I had my press badge. Familiar faces were both in the hall and on the screen. Of course, this makes it difficult to be objective. Where does the “oh, look, I know this guy” end and neutral assessment begin? I cannot surely answer. But for me, the film was quite good — dynamic, with plenty of humor and, what I appreciate the most, with a mission of helping people recovering from drug addiction.