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PU-239 is a 2007 film directed by Hollywood producer Scott Z. Burns based on the book PU-239 and Other Russian Fantasies written by Ken Kalfus.

The film was shown twice at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festivalmarker under the title The Half Life of Timofey Berezin, before being distributed by HBO Films under its original working title.


PU-239 is the chemical symbol for plutonium-239, a radioactive isotope.


Timofey Berezin (Paddy Considine) works at a top-secret, badly rundown plutonium plant in a Russianmarker town near Moscowmarker. At the film's outset, he is exposed to radiation while selflessly trying to stop a malfunction. The facility's draconian managers maintain his exposure was a survivable 100 rems, while accusing him of sabotage and suspending him without pay. Loyal coworkers, however, help Timofey discover the truth: he was exposed to 1,000 rems of radiation (the citizens of Hiroshima received less). Suffering from acute radiation poisoning, he has only days to live.

Before Timofey's adoring wife, Marina (Radha Mitchell), is fully aware of his fate, he leaves for Moscow, on a mission to secure a better future for her and their young son. He hooks up with a small-time gangster, Shiv (Oscar Isaac), in hopes of finding a buyer for a vial of weapons-grade plutonium he has stolen. It is 1995, only a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and their demented Moscow night hurtles them through the hotels, nightclubs and private palaces of the new underworld, and ricocheting between two rival crime lords (Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Steven Berkoff). However, what Timofey and Shiv never realize is that they are both caught in the same vise: trying to find a way free of a certain fate; hoping to do right by their loved ones before it is too late.

Production notes

The film was shot primarily in Romania, in Bucharestmarker and Ploie┼čtimarker.


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