The flagging Bulgarian film industry won’t get much of a boost from “Fate as a Rat,” a heavy-handed and interminable exercise in stylized realism with no immediately apparent point. Completist fests may jump at chance to present a Bulgarian-Macedonian co-prod, but otherwise, pic’s fate is limited to tolerant domestic auds.
Story is bookended by title rodent, which jumps off a boat named “Fortune” to live in the basement of a house in a rocky inlet at the beginning, and, after causing a massive explosion by eating through some explosives stored there, floats away on tub’s life raft at the end. In the interim, tale is told of a motley group of stone thieves who band together to fight the closing of the rock pits for the building of a seaside resort complex. Echoes of Tarkovsky’s “The Sacrifice” and its apocalyptic climax are undercut by crude histrionics and a certain overall dramatic lethargy.
Tech credits are crisp on an obviously thin budget, showcasing the rugged beauty of coastline and environs. Pic debuted domestically in November 2001, and was Bulgaria’s official submission to the foreign film field of the 74th Academy Awards.