“Love isn’t what it used to be — fortunately!” is the motto of “Bulgarian Lovers,” an engaging comedy-drama from veteran Eloy de la Iglesia. Tale of a fortysomething lawyer who has a compulsion to walk on the wild side when it comes to gay relationships, pic will be an essential part of gay fest programming but could also find a theatrical niche in some territories, with ancillary and TV scheduling also indicated.
Leading actor Fernando Guillen Cuervo adapted Eduardo Campoy’s novel in collaboration with the director, and the role of Daniel seems tailor-made for him. Daniel is an urbane member of Madrid’s upper-crust; he hails from an aristocratic family, has plenty of money, a successful law firm, a swank apartment. But he spends most of his spare time, accompanied by high-camp friends like Gildo (Pepon Nieto, overdoing it) cruising the Chueca, Madrid’s gay quarter. Lately, most of the available men seem to be coming from Eastern Europe, and when Daniel encounters the hunky Kyril (Dritan Biba) it’s lust at first sight.
Kyril has been in Spain for three months and is literally starving. Daniel stakes him to a meal and takes him to bed. Kyril freely admits he has a girl back home, and he also shamelessly takes advantage of the situation. Before long, the smitten Daniel is complying with his lover’s every whim, even if some of those whims are illegal, like forging papers or, eventually, even smuggling drugs and radioactive material.
Daniel accompanies Kyril back to Bulgaria and attends his wedding to the gorgeous Kalina (Anita Sinkovic). He buys Daniel a car, and, after they return to Spain, invites the couple home to meet his snobby parents, which is one of the film’s more amusing scenes. Along with the romantic adventures experienced by Daniel, there’s a message too: these immigrants to Spain are mostly ignored, except by the police, who harass them, and by men who are sexually interested in them.
Always well aware that his happiness is likely to be temporary, and determined not to complain or indulge in regrets later on, Daniel, who considers himself to be a gentleman, is a charming character whose passion for the handsome, wayward, exploitative Kyril is just one of those things. The film itself is a bit like that, too; full of charm, entertaining enough as it unfolds, good looking, but not especially memorable in retrospect.
Technical credits are all up to par.