Faith, Love And Whiskey

Faith, Love And Whiskey


Reviewed by: Michael Pattison

Over the opening credits of Faith, Love And Whiskey, following a brief prologue set amidst the steely greys of Manhattan, we hear Nice Apartment, an energetic track from Bulgarian hip hop artist Wosh MC, whose hyperkinetic native-tongue verses are interspersed with a half-English chorus that refers to such clichéd abstracts as “looking for excitement” and “a nice apartment”. It’s a fitting epigraph for Kristina Nikolova’s first feature as director, which seeks to dispel the perceived pleasantries of The American Dream while paying attention to the kinds of factors that might cause someone to be romanced away by such myths in the first place.

Co-written by Nikolova with Paul Dalio, Faith, Love And Whiskey smartly captures the stormy swoons and perceived or actual pressures of early adulthood, when career plans and marital commitments combine gravities to cast away gilded pasts forever. Neli (Ana Stojanovska) flees this very predicament when she returns to her native Sofia to visit her grandmother and to catch up with old pals, one of whom is former flame Val (Valeri Yordanov), with whom she resumes an alcohol-tinged fling. Having left supportive fiancé Scott (John Keabler) at home in New York, Neli falls back into the carefree lusts of her youth. Concerned by his fiancée’s silence, however, Scott shows up unexpectedly, bringing Neli’s utopia back to earth.

At a lean 75 minutes, the film does well to paint that age-old dilemma between the romances of impulse and the disappointments of real life. The few brief scenes of Manhattan suggest a picturesque but melancholic city, while Sofia’s unpretentious climes are seen as a haven for prolonged adolescence, as evinced by Neli and Val’s tempestuous excursion to a forest idyll, a fast-paced road trip whose metonymic image is of a bare foot hanging freely out of a car’s passenger window.

Stojanovska, a 23-year-old Macedonian who resembles a younger Nancy Travis, is excellent as Neli, a young woman whose flights of fancy come back to haunt her, and for whom the grass-is-always-greener quandary boils down to deciding which of two patriarchies is less intolerable. Evoking their protagonist’s whimsicality, Nikolova and editor Dalio often cut from Neli’s point-of-view to a reaction shot and back again, only in the latter POV the actress also appears, as if she is imagining her own performance in this ephemeral and ethereal summer romance.

Complicating such a romance on either side of Neli, Yordanov and Keabler are suitably cast as two unremarkable men whose romantic interests in the same woman are in spite of mutual respect. In the film’s most touching scene, Val has to translate between English and Bulgarian for Scott so that the latter can converse with his fiancée’s grandmother, whose admiring references to the American’s career achievements and current prospects are hard indeed to swallow. But is the boys’ shared object of desire “looking for excitement”, or “a nice apartment”…? The answer lies with her.

Reviewed on: 16 Apr 2013
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Young Neli abandons a secure future in with a wealthy, straight-laced fiancé for one last fling with her passionate but boozily self destructive ex-boyfriend.

Director: Kristina Nikolova

Writer: Paul Dalio, Kristina Nikolova

Starring: Yavor Baharov, Lidia Indjova, John Keabler, Ana Stojanovska, Valeri Yordanov

Year: 2012

Runtime: 75 minutes

Country: Bulgaria


Bradford 2013

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