"Gasoline" is the directorial debut of Asen Blatechki and Katerina Goranova. It has been filmed for several years with some interruption that is deliberately done to convey more authenticity to the story.
The film has the potential to go beyond home cinema, offering quite a few impressive scenes that are worth seeing. There are no traditional Balkan touches, which I find to be a very positive feature. Very masterful directors have been able to combine techniques from European drama and American action. The trailer prepares us for dynamic clash, high speeds and sexy women. I would like to make it clear here that despite the primary associations, Petrol is not the Bulgarian counterpart to Fast and Furious.
At its core, the film is a romantic story, full of well-shot action scenes and lascivious stunts, without excessive melodrama. Two songs with a strong emotional charge mark the beginning and end of the film - "Until Then" (with the participation of the Bulgarian cellist Irina Chirkova) and "Broken Road". They are part of the solo project of musician Sully Erna, who also appeared in the movie for a while. The choice of songs is not accidental. Their sad sound is in sync with the main character's emotions. The most dramatic moments manage to touch, to arouse sympathy, while not psychologically burdensome, but on the contrary, enhance the pleasure of watching.
This is really a story of a lost love, but told differently, through the eyes of a man. The director's chair definitely fits with Blatechki. It is not the first time he has shown an astonishing sense of casting, but what sets him apart is a clear cinematic vision. He knows what the viewers want and makes every effort to give it to them. It is evident that the camera crew has followed leading trends in contemporary cinematography. Effects were used but with a measure. Car stunts are real, with no computer graphics added. The scenes have a nice dynamic and there are deliberate shots at times that evoke Guy Ritchie's style.
Although there are professional stuntmen, Blatechki shoots most of the action scenes alone. These important details contribute to maintaining the authentic atmosphere of car racing, betting, competition, and scammers. And all this happens under the sounds of overbearing rock and roll. The soundtrack is really impressive and fans of the rock genre won't miss it. The music is carefully selected to sound at the right moments and amplify the impact of what's happening on screen. Visual presentation is the other thing with which the production impresses. The place where the action scenes were filmed, namely in the maritime capital of Bulgaria, contributes greatly to this. The choice here is no accident. Panoramic footage from the night Varna creates the feeling that we are not watching a typical Bulgarian film and that is really the case.
With the special involvement of Michael Madson
Blatechki and Goranova have the credit for boasting a Bulgarian tape that features the American star Michael Madson. He could also have refused the invitation for photos, especially given his busy schedule. Hardly the fee was so irresistible. He was attracted to the role. Who would have believed that one day we would watch the actor, play the most iconic image in Tarantino's masterpiece "Glutton Dogs", partner with Bulgarian actors. There are no impossible things in art.
The Petrol action wraps up two story lines. One follows the events of the distant 1999, and the other unfolds these days, the 2017. Smoke, nicknamed the American, emerges as a big star in illegal car races. Life on the edge of the razor meets him with the astoundingly beautiful Lucy. Love overtakes them like a hurricane. But as they celebrate the coming of 2000, a fatal incident casts a somber shadow over their happiness. The pain drives Smoke into a crime for which he goes to prison. 15 years later he is free again, but the world is no longer the same for him.
The caste is perfectly selected. I am convinced that if most of the actors were born in the United States, today they would have had crazy careers in Hollywood. With their casual behavior in front of the camera, they are able to breathe a strong dose of life into their images. He has played many different roles, both in theater and in cinema, but it seems that Dim's image is his manifesto. He gave a lot of himself, managing to recreate those emotions, which are revealed not by dialogues, but by acting. Kalin Vrachanski's (and not only his) talent is at a global level. But do not think that you will see him here as an enchanting magician with enchanting blue eyes. He plays Little Rado, a poorly educated, explosive, and repulsive antagonist. Although the majority likes him in the role of positive characters, I believe that Vrachanski is more compelling in his game when he has to recreate gloomy and contradictory images.
Michael Madson takes on the role of Max, the father of Dim, who also ventures into the car business. The moments with it are colorful and bring real pleasure! According to Blachechki, Madson has a strong visual resemblance to his real father, making him the perfect choice for the role. It's very enjoyable to watch them both work as a team and build a genuine emotional connection between a screen father and a son. Snezhana Makaveeva (in the role of Niko) and Lilyana Stanailova (Lucy) are indescribably charming. Both have been involved in modeling, and both love fast cars in real life.
Makaveeva's heroine is a ray of hope that can help the main character overcome the pain. And while the actress' talent is well known to the Bulgarian audience, along with her participation in the series Undercover, Lilyana Stanailova will still be the subject of attention. The gentle Stanailova brings the soul of a true creator. She is a model, fashion designer and artist (she draws on textiles). Gasoline is her cinematic debut and it is evident that the camera loves her a lot. There is genuine chemistry between Lucy and Dim. Their sex scene is impressively filmed. She is masterfully intertwined with tenderness, love and passion, aesthetically dressed in spectacular graphics.
Some of the best comic moments in the movie are with Bashar Rahal. He manages to be both charismatic and fun for the viewer. He plays a Lebanese man who trades in car parts. He speaks Lebanese and corrupt Bulgarian. There is a scene in which with his Lebanese speech he manages to genuinely make his colleagues laugh. I don't think the script was conceived that way, but they still left it, which I find to be the right director's decision. It looks very natural and charming.
In addition to Michael Madson, at Gasoline, we have the chance to enjoy another American star - Sully Erna, known as the frontman of the rock band GODSMACK. His role is small but memorable enough. He did not ask for a fee for his participation, which is a noble gesture to the project. Admiralty deserves other stars of the native cinema, who enjoy their appearance, in particular Plamen Menasiev, Veselin Kalanovski, Stefan Ivanov, Vasil Banov, twins Darin and Deyan Angelovi and others.
Final I have good reason to believe that the deafening silence that has been over the Bulgarian cinema since 1989 has come to an end, and that it is entering the Renaissance with slow but sure steps. Proof of this are the few valuable titles that have won the sympathy of native and foreign viewers and critics alike. As for director Blatechki, there is no doubt that he is brilliant in cinema, except in the theater. With this project he leaves his mark in the history of the new Bulgarian cinema. I look forward to his next appearances behind the camera.