On the verge of marrying her American Prince Charming, a Bulgarian emigre can’t resist scurrying back one more time to the bad boy she left back home in Kristina Nikolova’s debut feature, “Faith, Love + Whiskey.” Though not particularly deep, this enterprising indie drama does an admirable job pacing the limited bounds of its character triangle. Commercial potential may be marginally greater in the writer/co-helmer’s native land than in her adopted one, though in any case, arthouse and VOD placements will be modest.Tall, dark, handsome and gainfully employed, Manhattan yuppie Scott (John Keabler) is just what a girl seeking a permanent ticket out of depressed Eastern Europe might wish for. Yet the prospect of tying the knot to such a straight arrow is precisely what sends restless beauty Neli (Ana Stojanovska) flying on impulse back to Sofia, ostensibly to visit her beloved granny. But the real reason is to scratch an itch that won’t go away, namely ex-boyfriend Val (Valerie Yordanov). Never mind that he’s got a new girlfriend (Lidia Indjova) — and is still jobless and living with his parents — their attraction re-ignites in a heartbeat, triggering a return to the full-time drinking, clubbing and shagging lifestyle of yore. Concerned that she’s stopped returning his calls, Scott turns up, forcing Neli to decide what she wants, what’s good for her, or the mutual self-destruction that feels so good. These waters don’t run very deep, but if “Faith” doesn’t ultimately convince that there’s much at stake here, it nonetheless vividly conveys the taste for abandon that binds two people content to ride on life’s vicarious surface. The scrappy presentation is appropriate, boosted by good live and soundtracked rock acts.
A Magic Shop production. (International sales: Magic Shop, New York.) Produced by Ivan Kirilov, Mollye Asher. Executive producer, Georgi Nikolov. Directed by Kristina Nikolova. Screenplay, Nikolova, Paul Dalio.
Camera (color, Super 16-to-HD), Alexander Stanishev; editor, Dalio; music, Leepra Delux, Svetilo and the Legends, Wosh MC; production designer, Sabina Hristova; art director/costume designer, Armaveni Stoyanova; sound, Valentin Kirilov; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Allan Zaleski; assistant director, Jane Kortoshev. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Focus on World Cinema), Aug. 28, 2012. (Also in Slamdance.) Running time: 77 MIN.
Ana Stojanovska, Valeri Yordanov, Yavor Baharov, John Keabler, Lidia Indjova. (Bulgarian, English dialogue)