A country bumpkin and a big-city prostie learn from each other in vet helmer Una Celma’s “Handful of Bullets.” Though Swedish coin has been supporting Latvian cinema for at least a decade, unique co-prod nature of pic, Celma’s clean storytelling and some insightful perfs could lead to a handful of fest berths and regional tube action.
Newly arrived from the countryside, 17-year-old Ivars (Janis Murnieks) finds the streets of rapidly evolving Riga mean indeed. Though his uncle Fredis (Harijs Spanovskis) promised success and comfort, the reality is Ivars must hustle pens and newspapers in and around the train station, and living conditions with the boorish Fredis in an abandoned munitions factory (hence title) are Spartan. The arrival of spunky hooker Liene (Kristine Nevarauska) has a galvanizing effect on both men, teaching Ivars the importance of values in an evolving world. Lauris Gundar’s script vividly illustrates the changes brought on by capitalism without turning the story into a sermon, distaff helmer Celma keeps the dramatic arc firmly on course and Murnieks brings both naivete and resolve to the vulnerable Ivars. Martins Brauns’ pulsing electronic score is a plus.