Review: The ‘Glory’ of a Good Deed (and Its Fallout)


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Stefan Denolyubov plays a railroad worker who finds millions in cash on the tracks in the Bulgarian film “Glory.”

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Film Movement

It’s always been difficult to be an honest, moral person in a corrupt world, and as “Glory,” a new movie from Bulgaria, demonstrates, it’s also increasingly ridiculous. Directed by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov from a script they wrote with Decho Taralezhkov, “Glory” opens on a typically colorless morning (we infer) for Tzanko, a bushy-haired state-railroad employee portrayed by Stefan Denolyubov. His extravagant beard will immediately register as the kind that is not a hipster accouterment.

In his dimly lit apartment, Tzanko sets his analog wristwatch, eats his breakfast, puts on his fluorescent-orange vest and sets off to work. And on this day he discovers a substantial amount of cash strewn about on the tracks he helps maintain, but instead of stuffing his pockets he reports the find. While his colleagues take to mocking him dryly (over beers later on, they point out a bill on the floor of the bar and ask him what he’s going to do about it), higher-ups in the organization decide to celebrate him.

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Trailer: ‘Glory’

A preview of the film.


By FILM MOVEMENT on Publish Date April 11, 2017.


Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive.

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The ensuing media to-do is not a conventional success. Managed by a harried publicist, Julia (Margita Gosheva), who wears mostly sleeveless dresses and has a habit of placing folded tissues under her arms during stressful times (which are plentiful), the campaign has a hard time assimilating the shaggy, stammering Tzanko.

“Why don’t I just film some other guy?” a functionary offers to Julia, not so helpfully.

Still, the story breaks “unique views” records for the government-aligned website Julia oversees — mostly by people ridiculing Tzanko in the comments section. Things turn even more awkward: Julia confiscates Tzanko’s wristwatch, which he calls Glory (it’s an heirloom of sorts), and substitutes it with his chintzy digital award. Tzanko’s quest to get the original watch back results in a bureaucratic nightmare.

Not a predictable one, however, which is all to the benefit of this incisive, funny cinematic parable, shot and edited in a disarming, documentarylike style. (A lot of shallow-focus, follow-the-character sequences lend the story a bracing immediacy.) . Julia and her husband are trying to have a child, and for a while this plot thread seems an odd way to solicit sympathy for a character who behaves monstrously more than 85 percent of the time. As it happens, the filmmakers have something quite a bit more grim up their sleeves. The variable incongruities of “Glory” give it a queasy power uncommon in contemporary cinema. It’s the feel-bad movie of the spring.

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