Picks and Pans Review: Russian Doll

updated 06/25/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/25/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Hugh Weaving, Natalia Novikova, David Wenham

"I think of myself as a paid peeping Tom," says Harvey, the private-eye protagonist of this sprightly but slender romantic comedy. Harvey (Weaving), who lives in Sydney, spends his working hours peering through binoculars at straying husbands and wives. They do not give him much faith in love or marriage—especially after he catches his own girlfriend in the arms of a man he has been hired to watch. So Harvey is the most surprised of anyone when he falls for Katia (Novikova), a ditzy, sexy Russian émigré facing deportation, whom he reluctantly agrees to wed as a favor to his married buddy Ethan, with whom Katia is having an affair.

Russian Doll, directed with an agreeably light touch by Stavros Kazantzidis, finds much of its humor in the differences between Harvey and Katia. He's Catholic and racked by doubt; she's Jewish and always up for fun. Weaving (The Matrix) brings an appealing gravitas to his emotionally blind detective, allowing Novikova to bubble and fizz. (R)

Bottom Line: Dollicious

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