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Film / Station for Two

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Station for Two, aka "A Railway Station for Two" (Вокзал для двоих) is a 1982 film from the Soviet Union directed by Eldar Ryazanov.

Platon, a pianist, is off to prison—he took the blame after his wife struck and killed a pedestrian while driving their car. He is off on a two-day parole before going to jail for a long sentence, and he uses the parole to go see his father for what may be the last time.

On the way to his father's house he gets held up in a railway station in a provincial town. He passes up the unappetizing railway station lunch but the waitress, Vera, insists that he pay. The ensuing argument causes him to miss the train. An encounter with Andrei, a train conductor and Vera's boyfriend, results in Platon losing his passport. And finally, while he sleeps in the railway station, a thief picks his pocket.

All of the above results in Platon being stranded in the town. Vera, who feels guilty as her intransigence over the lunch bill started Platon's chain of disasters, takes responsibility for him. As Platon waits for the return of the passport that will allow him to go back to Moscow and thence to jail, love blooms.

Nikita Mikhalkov has a small but important role as Andrei, train conductor, peddler of black market goods, and Vera's boyfriend.


  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Evident fairly early between Vera and Platon, especially as he's carping about her and Andrei having a quickie in a train compartment (they didn't, as Vera wasn't in the mood).
  • Call-Back:
    • When they have lunch in the restaurant Vera unfolds a whole assortment of restaurant leftovers in various dishes and bowls. When they meet in the Siberian cabin at the end she does the same.
    • Before Platon leaves the station a resentful Vera notes that there's a social gap between them; he's a fancy concert pianist while she's a mere waitress. At the end Platon jokes that there's a social gap between them; she's a waitress while he is an ex-con.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Platon goes off on his liberty from prison, he's also ordered to retrieve an accordion for a guard. At the end, he and Vera oversleep, which is a big problem as if he's late to return he'll be charged with an escape attempt and have to serve a longer sentence. The movie ends with Platon within shouting distance of the gate at 8 AM and morning roll call, just a few minutes too late. He crumples on the ground in exhaustion and despair, seemingly doomed to a longer term in jail—until Vera pulls out the accordion. Platon then plays it, announcing his presence to the guards (he's close enough that they can hear the music inside the prison yard).
  • Creator Cameo: Eldar Ryazanov did this in most of his movies. Here he's the railway supervisor in the early part of the film who declines to help Platon in his confrontation with Vera over the bill.
  • Downer Beginning: The film opens with Platon in a melancholy prison somewhere in Siberia.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: There's a How We Got Here prologue that is followed by an epilogue, but the main story unfolds over 48 hours as Platon gets stranded at the railway station.
  • Gilligan Cut: Platon insists that he will not help sell Andrei's black market melons, refusing to be a "profiteer". Cut to Platon, selling the melons in the marketplace.
  • Headbutt of Love: Platon and Vera do this in the Siberian cabin, after Platon goes there on his liberty and finds that it's Vera, not his wife, waiting for him.
  • How We Got Here: The opening scene shows Platon in a Siberian prison in the depths of winter. He's granted liberty to go visit his wife in the nearby village although he really doesn't want to go. The story then unfolds from there with Platon at the railway station before he goes to jail.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Upon Andrei's return Vera breaks up with him, ending a rather degrading relationship. Andrei says "You've found another guy! Who is he?" Cue Platon, walking up to demand the return of his passport.
  • Match Cut: On three different occasions Ryazanov uses a source of light as a match cut transition between scenes at the railway station and brief looks at Platon's grim life in jail. A light caught by the glass of a champagne bottle cuts to an outdoor spotlight in the prison yard. A spotlight on the stage cuts to a light bulb in the prison barracks. And the gleam of the sun cuts to another light bulb in the prison, as Platon is playing in a jailhouse orchestra.
  • Meet Cute: The film starts with Platon missing his train because Vera, the waitress at a railway station restaurant, refuses to let him leave, insisting that he pay for a lunch he never ate.
  • Rom Com Job: Platon's a pianist. This is a source of conflict between Platon and Vera, as he has a fancy high-status job while she is a mere waitress.
  • Taking the Heat: Platon took the blame for his wife's hit-and-run and is going to jail. It's a particularly bitter pill, since his marriage is breaking up.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Subverted during their final scene together at the railway station: Vera is so overcome by her emotions that she runs off the platform before the train left, as Platon tries to catch a last glimpse of her as the train moves off.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Platon's wife, if you analyze the dialogue closely. As they dine together at the station restaurant, Platon tells Vera his wife loved to drive and was devastated when she ran over the pedestrian - so much so that he was forced to take the blame. Later on in the film, however, Vera calls his wife, who then tells her that she cannot drive.