The timeframe depicted in this film spans from the 80s into the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of what is termed in Russia the "oligarchs"--essentially, robber barons who ruthlessly did, and do everything they can to make millions of dollars. One such, a real person, was Boris Berekovski, here christened Platon Makovski.
Using flashbacks, the director, Pavel Longuine, a dual citizen of France and Russia, gives us a penetrating look at how Russians thought and felt and acted as the backbone of their entire civilization, communism, disappeared, to be replaced by a capitalism whose brutality made--and makes--people like John D. Rockefeller resemble babes in the woods. In the new Russia, people openly kill each other for business. Is that true in the US? Sure. But it's true typically of criminals--i.e., those whose lives are on a specific path.
What Longuine shows us in this film is that in the new Russia, it's true of businessmen who follow a path of doing business that can just as easily include whipping out a Kalashnikov and blowing away their competition as it can sitting at a conference room table.
The flashback technique is used effectively, counting down the years--starting at 15 years prior to Makovski's untimely demise--until just before the day of his death. We meet Makovski, his business associates, his mistress(es), the judge who uncovers the truth, his rivals, his allies, his friends. As each character makes his/her presence known, more of the new Russia is revealed until we see a picture of just how cutthroat things became--and still are. To illustrate this, one of Makovski's associates tells a joke about a man who bought a tie for $3,000 and is told by his friend that he was ripped off, since he saw the same tie somewhere else for $2,500.
This is a unique film--no other cinematic work has explored this territory, certainly not as clearly and comprehensively as Longuine has here. Great job.