A brave debut film from director Svetla Tsotsorkova, Thirst relies on strong performances, stunning landscapes and scarce dialogue, resulting in an utterly beautifully shot story.
The plot is quite simple: a mother, a father and their teenage son live in a remote wooden house in the mountains, making a living from washing sheets for local hotels. When summer brings draught and water supplies are limited, a man and his young daughter arrive to their secluded place in order to drill for water. The harmony in the family is destroyed as with the arrival of the two strangers, their small world is suddenly shaken up.
The theme of the village and rural life has long been a major motif in the Bulgarian art scene, especially so in literature. On the big screen those stories prove to work as well when handled with care as is the case here – the simplicity of the plot provides for the perfect stage of human emotions to take the lead. The slow pace of life usual for isolated places is excellently conveyed by that same lack of happenings, the absence of outer interference. This is why, the moment two strangers enter into the picture, the whole painting is turned upside down. The characters are left to their own emotions, thoughts and passions to lead them forward, yet the dialogue is pretty sparse, leaving a lot of unsaid things to hang in the air, resulting in a heavily electrified atmosphere.
Indeed, the strongest point to the film is the relationships between the five protagonists – between the girl and the boy, between the mother and the two men. Silence and unspoken words might be prevailing, yet simple expressions, looks and exchanges allow a glimpse into those five hidden, very different worlds. All of the actors did a great job with the heavy task of carrying the whole film forward. Stunning cinematography and grand shots of the surrounding mountains give a further sense of proportion and put the whole story into context.
While the movie is about thirst in its literal meaning, it is also, and even foremost, about the thirst for love, passion and human touch. Unexpected dramatic actions shake up the plot and finally leave the viewer wondering which thirst is more important and which one has a more drastic effect on its victims.
Thirst does not yet have a UK release date. This is part of the Love competition in the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Thirst here: