Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 11:04 pm 
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Angela Nedialkova and Ovanes Torosian in Avé

Bulgarian road movie

This first film from Bulgaria, seen late in the evening in Paris, is a lovely surprise. Why did both Variety and Hollywood Reporter dismiss it with faint praise at Cannes last year? They have seen too many "road movies," and think this is just another one without enough of a new angle. But angle or not, there is a soft, subtle, mysterious edge here that makes this an adventure and an experience not like any other. The dark-eyed art student Kamen (Ovanes Torosian), putting on a wrist watch without hands, starts hitchhiking his way across the country for the funeral of a classmate who has committed suicide. The beautiful Avé (Angela Nedialkova) steps in front of him and a car stops, so as they travel, they become a de facto couple that eventually becomes a real one, but she remains a mystery to him, a siren, and a provocation. Her compulsive lying maddens and angers him. And yet while it causes trouble, it also gives comfort when she pretends to be his late classmate's girlfriend, who in fact doesn't show up. Begin with Torosian and Nedialkova's faces: they illuminate the screen. Till they get to the dead mate's obsequies, it's not so important what other people do or say, though there's a driver who gets violently angry at being lied to and a kinky truck driver who chases them. What matters is the evolving relationship, and a muted nihilism felt by both youths that's echoed in the stark landscapes. Be patient, let this flow at its own speed, and you will experience a gem featuring a handful of budding talents, young stars, writer, and director all included.

Avé debuted at Cannes in 2011 and afterward was shown in many lesser international film festivals throughout the rest of 2011 and the beginning of 201. It opened theatrically in France April 25, 2012 following a Bulgarian opening six weeks earlier. Screened for this review at MK2 Beaubourg, Paris, May 12, 2012.

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