Early 80’s. In Leningrad there live three inseparable friends: Sashka Kunitsyn, Roman Krylov and Ashot Nikogosyan. All three – up to thirty. All three are “litsedey.” Sashka – “balerun” in the Kirov theater, Roman – actor on “Lenfilm”, Ashot – sings, plays, deftly imitates Marcel Marceau.
They are different, and at the same time very similar. Sasha from childhood conquered girls with his “harmony, grace, the ability to be charming.” The enemies consider him presumptuous, but at the same time he is ready to “give the last shirt”. Ashot does not differ in beauty, but innate artistry and plastic make him beautiful. He says very well, he is the progenitor of all plans. The novel is sarcastic and sharp in tongue. On the screen, he is ridiculous, often and tragic. In it there is something Chaplinskoe.
In their spare time they are always together. They are brought together by “a certain search for their own way.” The Soviet system they reproach no more than others, but “the damned question, how to resist the pressures on you from all sides, stupidity, one-line,” requires some answer. In addition, we must succeed – none of our friends suffer from lack of ambition. So they live. From morning till night – rehearsals, plays, shootings, and then they meet and lighten the soul, arguing about art, talent, literature, painting and much more.
Sashka and Ashot live with their mothers, Roman is alone. Friends always help each other, including money. They are called “the three musketeers”. There are women in their lives, but they are kept somewhat apart. Ashot has love – the Frenchwoman Henriette, who “trains at the Leningrad University.” Ashot is going to marry her.
Sashka and Ashot rush with the idea of putting Gogol’s “Overcoat” in which Sashka should play Akaky Akakievich. In the midst of this work, Sashka is being “ravaged” by foreign tours. He flies to Canada. There Sashka has great success and decides to ask for asylum. Roman and Ashot in complete confusion, they can not reconcile with the idea that their friend did not say a word about his plans. Ashot often visits Sasha’s mother – Vera Pavlovna. She is waiting for a letter from her son, but Sashka does not write and only once she sends her a parcel with a bright knitted sweater, some trifles and a big “miracle of polygraphy” – an album – “Alexandre Kunitsyn”. Soon, Ashot marries Henrietta. After a while, they and Ashot’s mother, Ranush Akopovna, are given permission to leave: to live in Russia, despite the love for everything Russian, Henriette is very difficult. Despite the fact that Roman remains alone, he approves the act of... Ashot. The last picture of Roman lay on the shelf, and he believes that it is impossible to live in this country. Ashotu madly does not want to part with his beloved city.
In Paris, Ashot arranges to work as a sound engineer for television. Soon Sashka performs in Paris. Ashot comes to the concert. Sashka is magnificent, the hall gives him an ovation. Ashotu manages to get behind the scenes. Sasha is very happy about him, but there are a lot of people around, and
Friends agree that Ashot will call Sasha in the hotel the next morning. But I can not get through Ashot: the phone does not answer. Sam Sashka does not call. When after work Ashot comes to the hotel, the receptionist informs him that Monsieur Kunitsyn has left. Ashot can not understand Sashka.
Gradually, Ashot gets used to the French life. He lives quite closed – work, home, books, TV. With avidity reads Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Bulgakov, Platonov, who can easily be bought at the store, watching the classics of Western cinema. Although Ashot becomes a Frenchman, “all their elections and discussions in the parliament” does not touch him. One day, on the threshold of Ashot appears Romka Krylov. He managed to come to the Cannes Festival as a consultant for his own money, and he did it because he really wanted to see Ashot. Three days friends are walking around Paris, remembering the past. Roman tells that he managed to hold the Soviet Minister of Culture and “drag”, in fact, an “anti-Soviet” film. Roman is leaving.
Soon Sashka appears, who flies to Ceylon, but in Paris there is a delay in the flight. Before Ashot, Sasha is still the same one who “executes” because of what he did. Ashot understands that he can not be angry with him. But in the fact that Sashka is now talking about art, there is so much rationality. Ashot remembers the “Overcoat”, Sashka also claims that the rich American “balletoman” “Overcoat” is not needed. It’s a shame that Sashka never asks about his “material well-being”.
No more friends meet. Roman’s film is not without success passes through the country. Roman envies Ashot because in his life there is no “Soviet mura”. Ashotik envies Roman, because in his life there is “struggle, sharpness, victory.” Henriette is waiting for the baby. Sashka lives in New York in a six-room apartment, touring, he constantly has to make important decisions.
From the publishing house. While the text of the story was typed in the printing house, Ashot was sent a telegram from Sashka with a request to fly to him immediately. “The expenses are paid,” the telegram said.