Birgit Beumers

... Mikhalkov acted only rarely during this period. One of his most significant roles – that of the mayor in a film made by Sergei Gazarov, based on Gogol's The Inspector General (Revizor, 1996) – is an exception. Gazarov wanted to make a popular film and invited a number of star actors, including Yevgeny Mironov, Marina Neyolova, Oleg Yankovsky, Armen Dzhigarkhanian and Vladimir Ilyin. In Mikhalkov's interpretation, the mayor is sly, cunning and in control of the overall situation that arises after the arrival of the alleged inspector. He controls the events with a charming authority, oblivious of the fact that he is mistaken about Khlestakov's real identity: he is not the inspector. Mikhalkov makes elaborate use of facial mimicry to emphasize the mayor's readiness to bribe whomever, whenever. Mikhalkov's mayor is convinced that he is doing the right thing; he is full of himself, never thinks of others, but uses them instead as his puppets, who can be deployed or discarded at his will. With his high-pitched voice, his oratorical skills and his talent as a director-controller, Mikhalkov is perfectly cast in this role of a man who never listens but acts only in the way he deems right. ...