Moth is freed on parole after spending time in prison on wrongful conviction of murder. Jailed shortly before the Bulgarian communist coup of 1944, he now finds himself in a new and alien ...
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Moth is freed on parole after spending time in prison on wrongful conviction of murder. Jailed shortly before the Bulgarian communist coup of 1944, he now finds himself in a new and alien world - the totalitarian Sofia of the 60s. His first night of freedom draws the map of a diabolical city full of decaying neighborhoods, gloomy streets and a bizarre parade of characters.Written by
This strange, lyrical semi-gangster movie reminded me of "El Topo" and "Eraserhead" in the way it stumbles with deceptive carelessness through its plot. Smalltime thief "Moth", who's lost his youth imprisoned for a murder he didn't commit, is released hoping to jump a freighter to the tropics. Fate and his past intervene.
"Zift" bows to film-noir classics like "Gilda" and "DOA", even lifting plot elements, but this little gem uses their themes only as point of departure, as it does references to "Candide": If all is best in the best possible worlds, all is worst in the worst.
And Soviet-era Bulgaria director Gardev depicts is just that - filthy, casually brutal and airlessly detached. Its denizens gossip via dirty jokes and debase themselves with joyful abandon. It's bracing to see such a depiction, since the "Marxist experiment" of Russia and Eastern Europe is almost sentimentally beheld in most Western media ('course, we didn't live the ugliness of the "paradise"). And a glimmer of humanity and soul in a Christian church surely would keep "Zift" off fashionably dogmatic PBS.
The world of the Moth is as black and spongy as the tar he loves to chew - the "zift" of the title. But there is within it laughter and truth. Highly recommended.
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