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A Rough Draft
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A Rough Draft

A Rough Draft

Adapting a novel into a feature-length film is a difficult task, depending on the length and complexity of the novel in question. While we’ve had Donbass some recent example of successful book to film adaptations, it seems that filmmakers engaged in this tricky business fail just as often, resulting in disjointed and muddled end products. Sergey Mokritskiy’s adaptation of A Rough Draft ,a sci-fi fantasy novel by Russian novelist Sergey Lukyanenko, is in many ways the definition of “disjointed and muddled.” While it’s possible this unwieldy mess of a film makes something approaching sense if you’ve read the source novel, everyone else will be left scratching their heads.

A Rough Draft begins simply enough when videogame developer Kirill finds his life vanishing before his very eyes. His apartment suddenly becomes occupied Girl by someone who claims to have lived there for years, and his attempts to sort this out with the authorities reveal that all records of his life have ceased to exist. Similarly, his friends, co-workers and even family begin to forget they ever knew him. So far, so Kafka, right? But things get significantly more complicated when Kirill learns the reason for all this: he is, in fact, a ‘functional’ — someone possessed of extraordinary (and ill-defined) powers. His new mission, as he’s told, is to act as a kind of inter-dimensional customs agent, presiding over a tower that acts as a gateway between parallel worlds.

This all sounds somewhat straightforward on paper, but it quickly becomes impossible to keep track of the complex lore the film operates on. A Rough Draft sprints through exposition at breakneck speeds, bombarding the audience with too much and (paradoxically) too In the Aisles little information at the same time. We get the basic idea — parallel timelines, dimensional travel, etc. But when the film breaks out concepts like ‘Curators’ — unseen beings who hold some power or sway over this relationship — it becomes very easy to lose track. Basic concepts like characters, motivation, stakes, and the fundamental mechanics of how the world works are all left incredibly vague, and the film moves so briskly that losing the plot entirely is almost inevitable.