Cinema: Oft-Told Tale

The Overcoat. In Nikolai Gogol's short story, as in this brief and virtually flawless film from Russia, Akaky Akakievich is a hunched, squinty-eyed penpusher, ridiculed at his office, who all winter long must suffer the cold winds of St. Petersburg whipping through his gauze thin overcoat. Compelled to buy a new one at painful cost, he talks to it, sleeps with it, defends it against a threatening moth. Next day, miraculously, Akaky Akakievich and his overcoat create a sen sation at work. His former tormentors are now backslapping friends; he is even invited...

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