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Senor wrong: the sexy-refugee-meets-uptight-Spaniard flick Bulgarian Lovers never digs deep enough.

Bulgarian Lovers * Written by Fernando Guillen Cuervo and Eloy de la Iglesia * Directed by Eloy de la Iglesia * Starring Fernando Guillen Cuervo, Dritan Beba * TLA Releasing

Sitting through Bulgarian Lovers, the new comedy-drama from Spanish director Eloy de la Iglesia, is like listening to an otherwise whip-smart friend rave for hours about a new lover who sounds like a major handful. Sure, you might sit there for a while with a fixed smile and eyes glazed, but with every added detail about the new boyfriend's insistence that he is straight, his sneaky disappearing acts, his borrowing money, and his weird demands, you finally just want to shake your friend by the shoulders and shout, "Run, Eliza, run!"

But, hey, that's the way things go with obsessive lust, and it's exactly that state of delirium that fuels De la Iglesia's movie, based on the Eduardo Mendicutti novel. Successful middle-aged Madrid lawyer Daniel (Fernando Guillen Cuervo) strays from his buttoned-down life and circle of posh queeny friends to go nuts for strapping refugee Kyril (Dritan Biba), a standout among the hordes of hot politically displaced Eastern European bucks flooding Spain in hope of a better tomorrow. No sooner are the two rutting like minks than simpering Daniel is giving Kyril expensive jewelry, getting lilt up for cash, being cajoled into storing a hot valise, lied to about the ugly wells that turn up on Kyril's hands, and providing Kyril's girlfriend with free room and board.

It's not like nobody tries to wake up the aggravatingly spineless hero, whom the director often has addressing the camera like a navel-gazer out of a Woody Allen movie. When Daniel bolts town to spend a country weekend with his rich, uptight family, Kyril and his boo burst in and horrify Daniel and company by videotaping them at their elegant dinner party. And when Daniel takes his boyfriend back to Bulgaria, Kyril's sexy young cousin comes on to Daniel, suggesting that Kyril has taken his cousin aside and told him to play up to his sugar daddy. Surely the screwing Daniel is getting can't possibly be worth the screwing he's getting. And by the time the film reveals exactly what international dirty doings Kyril has been up to, we're too bored to care.

Although actors Cuervo and Beba may be up to the task, they're starring in the kind of movie that soars or crashes on the viewer understanding, even sharing, Daniel's come-hell-or-high-water erotic obsession with Kyril. Doesn't happen. Instead of digging beneath the surface of a messy, potentially fascinating, and darkly funny cat-and-mouse relationship, director De la Iglesia obstinately keeps things very surface. And so Bulgarian Lovers squanders its potential--not to mention some happily gratuitous Bulgarian-style nudity--inducing slumber rather than insight. You'd do better, and have lots more laughs, watching Summer Lovers instead.

Rebello also writes for Playboy, Spin, and Hollywood Life.
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Article Details
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Author:Rebello, Stephen
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Movie Review
Date:May 25, 2004
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