Ordinary performance (film)

A regular performance is a French film directed by Marc Dugain , released on February 3, 2010 .

It is about the adaptation of the first part, entitled I am only Stalin , of his own eponymous novel published in 2007.


The story of the film is organized around two main characters: in autumn 1952, Anna, urologist and magnetist doctor , who is called to relieve in the biggest secret the pains of Joseph Stalin , both benevolent and barbarous.

At the end of 1952, Anna Atlina (Marina Hands), a young urologist in a Moscow hospital and who also shows an undeniable gift of magnetism, attracts many patients, which is not without cause the jealousy of many of his colleagues. She must also regularly repel the advances of his boss libidinous and threatening (Grégory Gadebois), while the director of the hospital (Tom Novembre), secretly in love with her, strives instead to protect her. The latter thus informs him of the existence of a petition against her accusing him of individualistic, obscurantist and anti-socialist methods of work.

Anna and Vassili, her husband physicist (Édouard Baer), live in a small apartment, a rare privilege reserved for the elite, placed at their disposal by the regime, under the intrusive and unpleasant supervision of the concierge of the building (Denis Podalydès) , indicator of the KGB. They love each other passionately and try in vain to have a child. They both take refuge in work (Vassili “works like crazy” because, he confides, “if I do not work, I think and if I think, I die”). His superior being suddenly “fallen sick”, Vasily is destined to replace him, which is not without its concern, because he will thus be more exposed. Everyday life, full of greyness, is made of scarcity, denunciations and ceaseless controls practiced by an all-powerful police. Only the love of these two beings allows them to forget a little each evening this gloomy and heavy atmosphere. However, they must be discreet because, according to the concierge, who, like a spider in his web, always comes out of his lodge appropriately when Anna enters or leaves the building, the neighbors “complain of his cries of enjoyment “.

One day, Anna’s life is turned upside down: KGB agents knock on her office door at the hospital and order her to follow them immediately. She is taken to the Kremlin, grabbed when she is taken out of the car, and as she follows the police through endless and sinister corridors, no one answers her questions. Arrived in a large room where unmoved and motionless guards face each other, she is ordered to sit down, and when she asks for permission to go to the toilet, she is forbidden while waiting for the search. Soon, we come to get her and she is introduced to a large office where she faces Stalin (André Dussollier) in person. Terrorized, she gives him “Master”, while the latter, paternalistic and good-natured, asks him to call him only “Comrade”.

Satisfied with his services, the paranoid dictator then inquires about his family and his husband and tells him that he expects absolute discretion from her. He demands, without further ado, that she leave her husband right away.

Overwhelmed, Anna returns home, finds Vasily there and tells him immediately, without further explanation, that she met another man “high placed” and that they must separate immediately. Vasili, bewildered and annihilated, does not understand, but, presumably sensing some terrible secret, does not oppose Anna’s demand.

Anna returns to the hospital, in general amazement, because we are not used to seeing so quickly – and intact – people taken by KGB agents. And his double life begins. To get out of this impossible situation, Anna steals a bottle in the hospital and makes a capsule of cyanide, for all practical purposes (for her or for the tyrant?). Las, on arrival for the second session with the dictator, it is searched and the capsule is confiscated. Later, Stalin will ask him – without too much delay because, if he does not have more confidence in this woman than in the rest of humanity, he needs her too much to part with it right away – Who was this cyanide intended for and would be satisfied with the answer she gave him: the capsule was for her.

Worried about what she could reveal to her relatives, Stalin imprisoned all the members of his entourage. One day, police come to arrest her husband at home and lock her up in the central Lubbais prison. With a calm cynicism, Stalin, who “does not want to be accused of favoritism”, confides to him to have solved thus the problem that posed the divorce of the couple with regard to the family housing. While she begs him to spare Vasili, Stalin asks her if she knew that her husband was of Jewish origin, and then with a sadistic man, reads excerpts from a report that was sent to her. Admittedly, her husband was somewhat tortured (“he was however left with the only testicle he has”) – no doubt to do well, whereas he, Stalin, had not asked for anything in this way, he thinks it’s a good thing – but he’s in good health. As the country needs physicists, Vassili will go to a nuclear center, where he, who does not drink, will have to “of course” get into alcohol to protect himself from radiation. And Stalin then goes on to monologize, thus giving Anna geopolitical confidences – especially on Hitler, Roosevelt and Truman – and on his philosophy of existence, where cynicism and Machiavellianism compete with him for brutality. Not without perversity, he then asks her if she realizes how these asides are dangerous for her. She then accompanies Stalin during a trip to his dacha on the banks of the Black Sea where a servant with whom she shares a few words tells her of her joy following the birth of her grandson,

Back in the Kremlin, Stalin is seized with a violent headache and pushes back Anna, who is no longer any help. Then he falls asleep. While sleeping, Anna, not without fear, sees on her desk a handwritten order tending to “make her disappear”. The dictator wakes up, stands up, takes a few steps, then collapses, seized with convulsions due to an attack. Anna rushes over the execution order that concerns her, chews it, swallows it and leaves leaving the old dictator lying dying on the carpet of his office.

Television footage then shows a mourning crowd lining up to greet the despot for the last time.

Later Vassili, aged ten years, dazed, his face swollen, returned to the apartment. Anna tells him that she loves him, that she has never loved him, that all this has been a dream …

Technical sheet

  • Title: Ordinary Execution
  • Director: Marc Dugain
  • Sets: Yves Fournier
  • Costumes: Jackie Budin
  • Editing: Fabrice Rouaud
  • Production: Jean-Louis Livi , Julie Salvador
  • Language: French
  •  France :


  • Marina Hands : Anna
  • André Dussollier : Joseph Stalin
  • Édouard Baer : Vassilli, Anna’s husband, physicist in a ministry
  • Denis Podalydès : the concierge
  • Tom November : the director of the hospital
  • Grégory Gadebois : the head of department at the hospital
  • Gilles Gaston-Dreyfus : Beria
  • Anne Benoît : Alexandra, Anna’s mother
  • Marie Payen : the patient of Anna n ° 1
  • Amandine Dewasmes : the patient of Anna n ° 2
  • Régis Romelé : Dr. Gregoriev
  • Gilles Ségal : Uncle Anton (Anna’s uncle)
  • Vincent Ozanon : the militia n ° 1
  • Horatiu Bob : the militia n ° 2
  • Denis Falgoux : The Secretary of the Kremlin
  • Agnieszka Kasprzak : the nurse secretary
  • Fabienne Luchetti : the secretary of the director
  • François Raffenaud : the director of the prison
  • Alain Stern : Malenkov
  • Valentin Popescu : Bolchakov
  • Sophie Pincemaille : the guard n ° 1
  • Nathalie Bécue : the guard n ° 2
  • Miglen Mirtchev : the arresting officer n ° 1
  • Stéphane Alexandre : the arresting officer n ° 2
  • Airy Routier : the bus policeman
  • Thierry Hancisse : the worker
  • Marcel Horobet : the cook “fresh stream”
  • Jean-François Elberg : Professor Chomsky
  • Jean-Pol Brissart : Lozgachev
  • Joëlle Séchaud : Boutouzova

Around the film

  • In the middle of the film, Anna asks an old butler who brings him food if he has children. He answers that yes and he is even grandfather recently, a small Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (future Prime Minister and President of the Russian Federation ).
  • At the beginning of the film, Vassili, Anna’s husband, waits for his wife while listening on his record player, the Andante of Dmitri Shostakovich’s second piano concerto . Impossible situation, the plot of the film taking place nearly 5 years before the writing of this piece for piano and orchestra ( 1957 ).


  • Although the performance of André Dussollier in the shoes of Joseph Stalin was well received, some historians were disappointed that crimes against humanity and acts committed against the invaded countries were not sufficiently exposed.

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