This article contains major spoilers as well as an open discussion of the Silver Skates ending.
Silver Skates, a new Russian Netflix Original, is hardly as “original” as that distinction suggests. It’s a classic fairytale romance reminiscent of everything from Titanic to Anastasia, and in its broad strokes it proceeds along well-worn narrative lines. However, its setting of a frozen Imperial Saint Petersburg at the turn of the twentieth century gives it a bit more (not always entirely welcome) complexity. Through it all, though, there’s really only one question that’s relevant, which is whether or not Matvey, an ice-skating deliveryman turned pickpocket, and Alisa, the daughter of wealthy dignitary Minister Nikolai Nikolaevich, end up together.
This film runs rather unnecessarily over two hours, so there are many scenes designed to add richness and texture that nonetheless don’t have much bearing on the plot. You can trace Matvey and Alisa’s relationship from an inadvertent meet-cute all the way to a fiery standoff, a breathless last-minute escape, and a fittingly fairytale-like happily-ever-after epilogue, but there are some details in each of these climactic scenes that were teed up by earlier details and developments, so we’ll start with the standoff aboard a ship wedged into the frozen river.
Obvious allusions to Titanic aside, this is really where the ending of Silver Skates begins to solidify itself. Finally, Matvey, Alex, and the rest of the gang have been cornered by Alisa’s suitor, Arkadiy Trubetskoy, and it’s a moment of high drama that arrives at just the right time. Alex gets his opportunity to be a true revolutionary here, taking Alisa hostage in order to try and save the rest of the gang and indeed Matvey, who he allows to jump from the ship’s prow into the frigid water below while Alex heroically sacrifices himself as a distraction. Alisa is taking away to be forcibly married to Arkadiy, while Matvey survives, but only barely.
Of course, there’s more to come. At the wedding festivities, Matvey infiltrates the soiree with a couple of train tickets to Paris, facilitating the lovers’ daring romantic getaway. This leads to another climactic sequence in which Matvey forces Alisa aboard the train but has to fight Arkadiy for the other ticket. He’s able to wrest the ticket from his rival and flee, barely managing to leap aboard the train as it speeds away, but Arkadiy opens fire on the young beggar boy and hits him in the chest. Luckily, the titular silver skates, gifted to Matvey by his lamplighter father, Petr, take the bullet for him, allowing him and Alisa to escape to Paris and live, as an epilogue reveals, happily ever after. They have a child together and she’s able to live out her scholarly ambitions as a teacher away from the patriarchal imperialism from which they were both able to escape.