Film Review: ‘The Color of the Chameleon’

The Color of the Chameleon

A darkly comic evocation of communist absurdities circa 1989

A darkly comic evocation of communist absurdities circa 1989, “The Color of the Chameleon” follows the fortunes of an amoral, almost Tom Ripley-esque opportunist and his initially state-decreed, later self-mandated adventures in surveillance. Based on scriptwriter Vladislav Todorov’s novel “Zincograph,” referenced within the film as a key underground text, this debut feature from Bulgarian helmer Emil Christov creates an alternate reality that juxtaposes Kafkaesque bureaucratic illogic with the murderous whimsy of an off-the-wall freelancer.  Composed as a series of surreal shocks, this New Directors/New Films entry, rapidly changing tones alongside its fearlessly imitative hero, reps a dark horse for arthouse distribution.

Batka (Ruscen Vidinliev) is recruited by the secret police to gather intel on a weirdo group of “new thinkers,” where counterintuitive feminism and vaginal speculums hold sway. But Batka’s imagination soars far beyond the confines of his role; told to “be creative,” he produces a treatise on outer-space spying and the challenges of zero-gravity surveillance. Summarily dismissed, he fakes official documents to conscript his former targets as operatives in a fictional bureau whose stated objective is to replace spontaneous orgasms with state-controlled ones, but whose real aim proves more subversive.

The Color of the Chameleon
Tsvetat na hameleona
(Bulgaria)

Reviewed at NewDirectors/New Films, Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 23, 2013. (Also in Palm Springs Film Festival; 2012 Toronto, Thessaloniki film festivals.) Running time: 111 MIN.

A Peripeteia Films, Nu Boyana, Bulgarian National Television, Restart production with the support of the Bulgarian Film Center. (International sales: Peripeteia Films, Sofia.) Produced by Bouriana Zakharieva, Vladislav Todorov.

Directed by Emil Christov. Screenplay, Vladislav Todorov, based on his novel “Zincograph.” Camera (color/B&W), Krum Rodriguez; editor, Alexander Etimov; music, Nikolay Madzharov, New Orchestra Ideas; production designer, Prolet Georgieva.

Cast: Ruscen Vidinliev, Irena Milyankova, Rousy Chanev, Deyan Donkov, Samuel Finzi, Svetlana Yancheva.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading