Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Submitted By Bulgaria: Sneakers
the youth of Bulgaria feel alienated, evidently they head to the beach. It makes more sense than moping about a
housing project. Six disaffected
slackers enjoy an idyllic retreat, but it can only last so long in Ivan
Vladimirov & Valeri Yordanov’s Sneakers
has been selected by Bulgaria as their official foreign language Academy Award
girly-girl, Emi beats the snot out of her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Turkish immigrant Gray has no shot with her,
but he loyally follows her anyway. Eventually, they hook-up with Blackbird, a
too cool to care coffeehouse performer, and his dedicated ex-boxer pal,
Wee. Having pummeled some lowlifes in a
bar brawl, they are also looking for a change of scenery. With no general plans, the four crash at the
beach, where half-aspiring filmmakers Ivo and Fatso soon turn up.
combination of a lot of booze, angst, the cute but sexually ambiguous Emi, and
five guys, two of whom are very definitely attracted to her, ought to spell trouble.
Yet, whenever the film perches on the
brink of conflict, the six dropouts resolve it rather simply (up until
co-director-co-star Yordanov’s screenplay takes a weird climatic turn into left
field). While that might be rather
appealing in the abstract, it is dramatically self-defeating. There are also several conversations you might
have to be Bulgarian—and possibly drunk—to get.
Sneakers’ narrative is not really
anything to write home about, it offers some appealing scenes of fun in the
Black Sea sun. Cinematographer Rali
Raltschev deserves a citation of honor from the Bulgarian tourism bureau. Yordanov, who made a real meathead impression
in Kristina Nikolova’s Faith Love + Whiskey, acquits himself quite well, at least in front of the camera. In fact, the ensemble performances are easily
the strongest aspect of the film, with Philip Avramov and Ina Nikolova doing
particularly sensitive, well-calibrated work as Blackbird and Emi,
A bit awkward at times, Sneakers is still perfectly presentable on the festival circuit,
but it is most likely not bound for Oscar glory. For professionals, it is definitely worth
checking out for a look at its talented young cast. Sneakers
has screened in New York at a Bulgarian festival, but it ought to have a bit
more fest action ahead of it, thanks to its Oscar contention status.
Labels: 85th Academy Awards Foreign Language Submissions, Bulgarian Cinema