As genre unions go, both coming-of-age and love stories are well treated by the conventions of the road movie. There’s a barreling, forward-lean pursuit of arrival/self-discovery/consummation, and ample, inevitable excuses for detouring, idling, and overheating. Although this delicate debut fiction feature by Bulgarian Konstantin Bojanov knowingly satisfies aspects of all three (à la road youth romances like My Own Private Idaho and Y Tu Mamá También), it never strays from its own emotional logic. When adolescent hitchhikers Kamen (Ovanes Torosian) and Avé (Anjela Nedyalkova) meet on the road from Sofia to Ruse, each is silently stowing a personal tragedy. Yet even as the self-serious Kamen desperately tries to make it to his friend’s funeral, and crafty Avé chases after rumors of her junkie brother’s whereabouts, there’s more momentum pushing them together—as co-conspirators, as an antagonistic comic duo, as lovers—than forward. Bojanov’s eye for Bulgarian byways is sharp but never condescending—mercifully there are no goth-hick fever interludes on this trip—though such is mere scenery compared with the spectacle of Torosian’s unsmiling, gorgeously gaunt face and Nedyalkova’s downy, Romanesque beauty. Outside of a final shot that’s more poetically convenient than emotionally convincing, Avé follows a progression that feels intimate even as it mimics things iconic. They, we, move and are moved.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 3, 2012