Review: Glory – Slava (2016)

Glory – Slava (2016)

Directed by: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov | 101 minutes | drama | Actors: Stefan Denolyubov, Margita Gosheva, Ana Bratoeva, Nadejda Bratoeva, Nikola Dodov, Stanislav Ganchev, Mira Iskarova, Milko Lazarov, Hristofor Nedkov, Dimitar Sardzhev, Ivan Savov, Tanya Shahova, Dr. Georgi Stamenov, Deyan Statulov, Decho Taralezhkov, Kitodar Todorov, Nikolay Todorov

‘Glory’ (2016), the second film by Bulgarian director Kristina Grozeva, is a tragicomedy about a poor railway worker, Tsanko, who becomes the plaything of ruthless career tigers and corrupt officials. Tsanko finds a lot of money during his inspection round along the track, and instead of putting the loot in his own pocket, he informs the police. The PR department of the Ministry of Transport uses Tsanko’s honesty to boost its image, and from that moment on, Tsanko’s simple life turns into a Kafkaesque roller coaster ride that goes from bad to worse.

Like Grozeva’s debut ‘The Lesson’ (2014), ‘Glory’ is inspired by a news report from the Bulgarian press, and forms the second part in what is ultimately to become a trilogy. Connecting element, according to Grozeva, is ‘the quiet rebellion of the little person against the soulless and cynical world in which we live’. In ‘Glory’, no one escapes these negative qualities, and in the end neither does Tsanko. In this ‘Glory’ is very compelling; the characters get stuck in their all-too-recognizable clichés. There’s Julia, the extremely career-oriented and ruthless PR chief; its equally harsh employees who only have an eye for the technical side of their work; and Julia’s abusive husband who, while good-natured, seems incapable of expressing himself.

These superficial characterizations are not in line with the cinematographic intentions of the makers to get close to the skin of their characters in order to deepen their state of mind and motives. It produces a fine image and the actors can handle that intrusive camera, but all those voyeuristic shots don’t make the characters more interesting. ‘Glory’ mainly evokes indignation among the viewer and does so cunningly by means of hypothermic gloating. Humiliation follows humiliation and intentionally predictably, Tsanko and Julia face their doom. Although the ending comes as a surprise, it is a wry concession to the viewer demanding satisfaction.

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