Review: ‘One Calorie of Tenderness’

A solid script and strong performances give firm foundations to "One Calorie of Tenderness." However, the whole is weakened by pedestrian direction from Ivanka Grubcheva. "Calorie" will make reliable programming for Bulgarian film weeks abroad but won't put on much B.O. weight theatrically.

A solid script and strong performances give firm foundations to “One Calorie of Tenderness.” However, the whole is weakened by pedestrian direction from veteran helmer Ivanka Grubcheva that’s scarcely responsive to the emotional currents on display. “Calorie” will make reliable programming for Bulgarian film weeks abroad but won’t put on much B.O. weight theatrically.

Nadia (Maria Kavardzhikova, excellent), a 42-year-old research chemist hoping to get her Ph.D., is preparing for a family dinner at her apartment. Daughter Maria (Maria Zhikich) and son Stefan (Darin Angelov) are already there; granny (Tsvetana Maneva) arrives with a cake; Nadia’s philandering ex-husband, Radoslav (Valentin Ganev), comes with flowers to propose re-marriage after 15 years; and Nadia’s work colleague, Liliana (Plamena Getova), makes it a sextet. But Nadia has a revelation to make that throws everyone. Individual storylines are cleanly delineated but dialogue often strives to find a balance between being natural and issue-led. Femmes dominate the drama, with male characters underdrawn in comparison, giving pic an unbalanced flavor, not helped by the sometimes jerky rhythm. Lensing is flat, music warm and supportive but repetitive.

One Calorie of Tenderness

Bulgaria

Production

A Niki Film production, in association with Bulgarian National Television, Boyana Film. (International sales: Niki, Sofia, Bulgaria.) Produced by Nikolai Nikolov. Directed by Ivanka Grubcheva. Screenplay, Georgi Danailov, based on a play.

Crew

Camera (color), Aleksandur Lazarov; editor, Rumen Mitov; music, Nikolai Ivanov; art director, Tsvetanka Yankova. Reviewed at Sofia Film Festival, Bulgaria, March 15, 2003. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Maria Kavardzhikova, Tsvetana Maneva, Valentin Ganev, Plamena Getova, Marin Yanev, Mariana Zhikich, Darin Angelov, Evgeniya Aleksandrova.
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