Avé depicts a journey through the roads of Bulgaria as Kamen (Ovanes Torosian), a rather taciturn art student, hitch-hikes from Sofia to a village, Ruse. To begin with, we do not know why, we only know something extraordinary may have happened, as the previous scene showed a member of staff at the art school wanting to talk to him. However, we soon learn that he is going to a funeral of a close friend, another art student, Victor, who has killed himself. The reasons for this act are never explicitly said, although we may infer those, as the story develops. Kamen is obviously disturbed, and brooding, by the death of his friend. However, what is interesting is that we learn about this fact through Avé (a wonderful Angela Nedialkova), a runaway 17 year old girl who kind of joins him on his journey on a road going out of Sofia.
She has a penchant to fabricate, and tell, stories, herself, and Kamen soon becomes part of this spider web coming out of her imagination, these stories she constructs from the flimsiest treads she finds in every situation that she, and now, Kamen, find themselves embroiled, sometimes potentially violent, with some of those drivers who have picked them up, including a pedophile lorry driver ( Martin Brambach), although I thought that the depiction of this particular character was a bit clichéd. She, having probably spent a longer time hitch-hiking , has become much more street-wise than Kamen, her stories are, in part, a construction of a imaginary character for her to have some street credibility, and protection.
However, I have to stress the words in part, as the narrative progresses, a much darker story emerges. Whilst the film is, apparently, a story about this uneasy couple, Kamen being very hostile to her to begin with, and told, mostly, from his point of view, as the camera is more often than not focussed on him, the girl is, in reality, its centre. Avé is a exploration into her psyche, as one of the stories she tells Kamen, in private, turns to be true, a tread which links her past, her recent journey, and her morrow, a scene that ends the film not with an answer, a closure, but leaves the door open for the mind to further delve into what is to come.
This is the beauty of Avé, the fact that behind what seems to be, on first sight, a simple road movie set in Bulgaria rather than on the wide plains of North America, there are glimpses of a complex and troubled psyche, and the transformation of both characters, his initial hostility to her becoming love. There is a significative scene, near the end of the film, where we see Kamen, now on his own on board of a train, repeating to a stranger those stories he first heard from her lips, a device he not only uses to give him a cover for his actions without exposing his inner feelings to the outside world, but as a way to remember her, to live her own story within himself.
Bruno S., whom we know from Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, and Stroszek, plays a part as the grandfather of the dead boy, Victor. An interesting casting, as I consider both films to be road movies, literally in the case of Stroszek, and figuratively in the case of The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.
Konstantin Bojanov's film is an assured and striking debut feature, exploring not only the complexities and development of both main characters, but also a kind of survey of contemporary Bulgarian society as we see, through their eyes, those people who have picked them up, the places where they have stayed, all those highways, those road side cafés, those bus and railway stations.
Network is pleased to announce the DVD release of this road trip with a twist- AVE (15) is available to buy on DVD on 28th May 2012.
KONSTANTIN BOJANOV DIRECTS THE STARTLING TALE OF TWO TEENAGERS ON A ROADTRIP ACROSS BULGARIA. ONE IS A COMPULSIVE LIAR, THE OTHER IS HAUNTED BY THE TRUTH.
Recalling classic road movies such as The Passenger, Five Easy Pieces and La Vie Revée des Anges, and inspired by haunting real-life events and encounters, Konstantin Bojanov’s debut feature is as spontaneous and freewheeling as the characters’ adventures. Portraying the unfolding of two personal dramas with levity and humour, this remarkable, triple-award winning film explores exceptional moments when time feels suspended, and one’s responsibility is only to the beat of one’s own heart.
While hitchhiking from Sofia to Ruse, Kamen, an alienated art student, meets Avé, a 17-year-old runaway. With each ride they hitch, Avé invents new identities for both of them, her compulsive lies dragging Kamen deeper and deeper into trouble, drawing him into a confusing adventure and ultimately forcing them to confront both death and love in a cathartic and life-changing experience.