Ave: Cannes 2011 Review

Cannes Film Festival
Bulgarian road movie features strong performances, but doesn’t travel at the right speed.

Bulgarian road trip movie from first-time filmmaker Konstantin Bojanov takes too long to kick into gear.

CANNES -- Two troubled teens hitchhike across Bulgaria in Avé, first-time filmmaker Konstantin Bojanov’s slow-burning, and perhaps too slow-moving, indie road movie. Featuring strong turns from Eastern Plays actors Ovanes Torosyan and Andjela Nedyalkova, the film explores the travelers’ burgeoning relationship as they reveal secrets about themselves along the way to an uncertain destiny. Additional fest play and small-scale Euro distribution is likely.

Starting off in the grim urban environs of Sofia and eventually making its ways across highways and farmlands to parts unknown, Avé offers up a journey treaded many a time before, though it adds a few minor twists along the way.

When the gaunt and brooding, Kamen (Torosyan), meets the scruffy beauty, Avé (Nedyalkova), on the side of the road, he’s both intrigued and put off by her ability to lie her way both in and out of any situation. Although Avé first claims she’s headed to visit her grandmother in Ruse, her story changes so many times until Kamen – himself traveling to the funeral of a friend who committed suicide – decides it’s best to give her the slip.

But fate winds up bringing these two together again, and the bumpy voyage they share allows them to shed various defense mechanisms, exposing feelings that lie buried beneath their hidden traumas and rebel attitudes. Still, it takes freshman writer-director Bojanov rather long to get the show on the road, so to speak, and as the pair spends an inordinate amount of time not talking to one another, it’s hard to be completely invested in the drama.

Convincing performances by Torosyan and Nedyalkova manage to convey emotion despite the lack of dialogue, while sharp HD imagery captures the stark, and not entirely welcoming, Bulgarian landscapes.

Venue: Cannes Film Festival, Critics’ Week
Sales: Le Pacte
Production companies: Kamera, KB Films
Cast: Andjela Nedyalkova, Ovanes Torosyan, Martin Brambach, Svetlana Yancheva, Nikolay Urumov, Elena Rainova, Krasimir Dokov, Iossif Sarchadzhiev, Bruno S.
Director: Konstantin Bojanov
Screenwriters: Konstantin Bojanov, Arnold Barkus

Producers: Metodius Petrikov, Dimitar Gotchev, Geoffroy Grison, Konstantin Bojanov
Directors of photography: Nenad Boroevich, Radoslav Gotchev
Production designer: Nikolay Karamfilov
Costume designer: Marina Yaneva
Editor: Stela Georgieva
No rating, 87 minutes