Soviet Union cinematography was a huge industry. There were no half-hearted films. Every movie strived to be a masterpiece, with elaborate staging and inspired acting. Movies were made to be thoughtful, if not entertaining. One of the most popular themes in the Soviet films was the fate of Russian girls.
The movie "Moscow does not Believe in Tears" was set in Moscow from the late 1950s to the late 1970s. It tells a story about three provincial Russian girls who come to Moscow for their studies, in hopes of finding a better life in the city than what they would expect to get back in the country. They are settled into the same room in a dormitory and eventually become friends. One girl, Antonina, soon gets married pretty quickly, but the other two girls have fairly turbulent love lives.
Lyudmila (played by Irina Muravieva) induces Katerina ( played by Vera Alentova) to throw a party in Katya's aunt and uncle's apartment and invite all the men Lyudmila has met over the past years. She passes herself off as a student in psychology, when in actual fact, she works at a bakery. She also convinces her friend to pass herself off as a student in an equally admirable profession (even though she is a low-wage drone in a factory where they make nuts and bolts and the like).
The two Russian girls have their party. Soon they find themselves paired off. Lyudmila gets the hockey player, while Katerina gets a television cameraman who eventually seduces her. The big issue is how do they break the truth to these guys that they are not who they say they are. The hockey player accepts Ludmila's true status very easily, but the cameraman breaks off his relationship with Katerina very quickly when he finds out that she is pregnant by him, blaming her for the whole thing.
The movie shows Katerina with tears in her eyes as she is setting her alarm clock in a dormitory where she has just arrived after bearing her daughter, Alexandra ( played by Natlaya Vavilova). Katerina struggles to earn her degree and also work hard in a factory.
Then the movie takes a 20-year leap forward in time. "Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears" manages to be both melodramatic and somewhat realistic. The different fates of the three girls are a cross-section of what most Russian girls had to go through. The girl who gets married early on stays married for the rest of the movie, and seems to be a relatively happy housewife. The girl who marries the hockey player seems to have finally found her true romance - until it, tragic-comically, goes sour. Her husband turns out to be an alcoholic and she divorces him. The third girl completely absorbs herself into a professional life as an executive for the engineering company she worked for when she was younger. Even while raising her daughter -- she is the most successful. But it does not mean that she is the happiest of the three Russian girls. She still feels that something is missing in her life. This movie's strength is in depicting a lifelong friendship between the girls as they go through their own unique romantic experiences.
The second half of the film, which is set in the present (as in 1979-80), deals mainly with this professional woman, Katerina, in a new romance with Gosha (Alexey Batalov). This seems like a total mismatch, naturally -- a professional woman and blue-collar man who believes that men should earn more than girls, and that Russian men are, naturally, heads of the household. When he learns that Katerina is a director of a big factory and makes more money he leaves.
For several days Gosha is nowhere to be seen, he doesn't call and doesn't return to Katerina. Finally Katerina and her former dormitory roommates gather in her kitchen and decide that they have to do something. Nikolai (Boris Smorchkov), the husband of Antonina, sets out to find Gosha. He finds him and convinces him to return to Katerina.
The final scene of the movie is set in the kitchen of Katerina's flat. Gosha eats soup, while Katerina watches him with tears in her eyes. Gosha asks "What's wrong?" Katerina replies "I've been looking for you for so long".
The film won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1980. It was the third Soviet film after War and Peace (Sergey Bondarchuk in 1968) and Dersy Uzala (Joint production by the USSR and Japan in 1975) that was awarded an Oscar. US President Ronald Reagan watched the film several times prior to his meetings with the President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, in order to gain a better understanding of the "Russian soul".