Review: ‘A Leaf in the Wind’

A Romeo & Juliet-like story recast with idiot savants, "A Leaf in the Wind" is an offbeat mixture of black comedy, rustic superstition and tragi-comedy that's long on build-up and rapid in resolution. Strong casting makes this a watchable drama. But this DV-lensed production for Bulgarian TV is purely small-screen fare.

A Romeo & Juliet-like story recast with idiot savants, “A Leaf in the Wind” is an offbeat mixture of black comedy, rustic superstition and tragi-comedy that’s long on build-up and rapid in resolution. Strong casting — especially of the two impaired leads — makes this a watchable drama. But unlike “Under the Same Sky,” this DV-lensed production for Bulgarian TV is purely small-screen fare, with little life beyond its original medium.

Though she’s medically fine, 16-year-old Vesa (Vesela Kazakova) has remained mute since birth; her strung-out mother (Maria Kavardzhikova) is told by a Turkish clairvoyant that she’ll only begin to speak when someone who’s in a worse condition than she is becomes a “votive offering.” Enter Ilmi (Ivan Burnev), the clairvoyant’s happy-go-lucky but slightly retarded nephew, whose adventures in a “borrowed” truck are cross-cut with Vesa’s fraught home life until the two finally meet by chance 80 minutes into the film. Bozhidar Petkov’s pregnant chamber score gives the production a mystical edge, but it’s the lusty perfs that make this unclassifiable drama engaging — from Kazakova’s gangling, kohl-eyed teen to veteran Tsvetana Maneva’s cackling crone who tries hoodwinking the ingenuous Ilmi.

A Leaf in the Wind

Bulgaria

Production

A Bulgarian National Television presentation of a Profilm production. (International sales: BNT, Sofia.) Executive producer, Asen Vladimirov. Directed, written by Svetoslav Ovcharov.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Ognyan Kalaydzhiev; editors, Ovcharov, Maria Handzhieva; music, Bozhidar Petkov; art director, Prolet Georgieva. Reviewed at Sofia Film Festival, Bulgaria, March 14, 2003. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Vesela Kazakova, Ivan Burnev, Maria Kavardzhikova, Meylena Karalambova, Vasil Mihaylov, Stefan Mavrodiev, Tsvetana Maneva, Ivan Savov, Aleksandr Doynov, Mariana Krymova, Kalina Marinova, Nikolay Boyadzhiev.
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