Six city slickers from Sofia trade in their urban misery for a hobo-ish alternative on the Black Sea in "Sneakers."

Six city slickers from Sofia trade in their urban misery for a hobo-ish alternative on the Black Sea in “Sneakers,” from directors Ivan Vladimirov and Valeri Yordanov. Also written by and starring Yordanov, pic takes the outline of Alex Garland’s “The Beach” and transplants it to Bulgaria, where a handful of emotionally damaged but hopeful and (mostly) beautiful youngsters sing, swim and are merry before real life turns up as the ultimate party pooper. Beautifully shot in widescreen and convincingly thesped, these “Sneakers” are nonetheless a little smelly from having been walked in too often before.

Sofia-set opening sketches the characters in quick edits before they flee the city, meet and improvise a mini-commune on a paradisiacal beach. Once there, narrative and dialogue tend to ramble, with the tired gimmick of a DV camera used as a confessional to showcase each character’s existential ennui. As an introverted Turkish immigrant, Yordanov (“Crayfish”) steals the show. Ironically, the ending borrows from “Thelma & Louise,” though the posse only has room for one tomboyish chick (Ina Nikolova). Title is a reference to the type of shoes that “help you sneak out.”

Sneakers

Bulgaria

Production

A Gala Film presentation and production in association with Sofilm. Produced by Galina Toneva, Kiril Kirilov. Directed by Ivan Vladimirov, Valeri Yordanov. Screenplay, Valeri Yordanov.

Crew

Camera (color, 35mm/DV-to-35mm,widescreen), Rali Raltchev; editor, Svetlana Kirilova; music, Kiril Dobrev; production designer, Sabina Christova. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (East of the West, competing), July 5, 2011. (Also in Moscow Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Philip Avramov, Valeri Yordanov, Ivan Barnev, Vassil Draganov, Ivo Arakov, Ina Nikolova. (Bulgarian, English, Turkish, German dialogue)
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