The film The Lesson is a production of Bulgaria and Greece and has won numerous awards for film art from international festivals, including this year's 19 in the Sofia Film Fest. The dramatic film is the first part of a film trilogy, designed by directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, which aims to focus attention on three snapshots revealing the state of Bulgarian society and to make an artistic dissection of the modern ordinary man.
Lesson is a film about the strong character and fighting spirit of an English teacher. He illustrates a series of moments that touch, test human patience and make the heart weep for empathy, because these moments are a mirror of a happening reality not only in the homeland but also in all countries affected by the global financial crisis.
The film introduces us to the heroine Nadezhda (Margita Gosheva), a high school English teacher who lives in Malak Lom, Blagoevgrad with her daughter and her husband (Ivan Burnev). Fighting the grief of her recently deceased mother, Hope is the main pillar that strengthens the family. In order to earn some extra lev, she works at a translation and legalization company in out-of-school time. The daily routine ends when she goes home one day and realizes that her house will be confiscated from the bank for unpaid mortgage payments. Hope has three days to deposit the sum of 8000 BGN, otherwise she and her family will be left homeless.
This story is not only true, it is universal. What the main character with the symbolic name Hope is experiencing can happen to anyone. The wheel of life is spinning and one does not know tomorrow who can find himself in a situation where his future depends on 1.37 BGN
Obviously, the movie was shot on a low budget, but that doesn't mean it has nothing to grab the viewer's attention. On the contrary. Frankly, the simple and somewhat trivial neo-realism story captures our attention from the beginning, leaving us with a sweet and bitter aftertaste and a state of reflection on the vicissitudes of life.
The "lesson" is from the films that excite and touch tears without depressing and generating dark thoughts. Although the main character experiences a long series of dramatic events, unlike the old Bulgarian classics from the 70 and 80, the level of drama in the Lesson does not border on complete tragedy. The plot does not show anything new and is frugal in terms of expressive means, but it is for this reason that there is no unnecessary word and gesture. Writers and directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov present a clear and clear story, and precisely in its minimalism, there are many hidden messages and symbols that contribute to the strong emotional impact. The film is inspired by the story of a teacher who robbed a bank that has long been at the forefront of Bulgarian news broadcasts. But the film's drama does not focus on the robbery itself, but on the causes and circumstances that led to it, presented through the eyes of the victimized teacher. It is important to keep in mind that the film is only inspired by the true case, but the story is fictional.
"Lesson" belongs to the quality films that leave a mark in the mind and awaken thoughts long after the end of the final captions. Nadezhda's experiences make us think about the price of everything around us - home, family, work, dignity, morality, clear conscience, humanity and the absurdities of society. In each subsequent step, Nadezhda reveals herself as a balanced person who would rather find a solution to a difficult situation than be angry at the reasons that led to the situation. Her figure stands out against the background of a failed husband and it quickly becomes clear that she is both the man and the woman in the family.
Margita Gosheva, tasked with the daunting task of playing the lead role in this drama, shows brilliant acting. Its performance maintains the emotional balance of the film and helps it not to fall into dangerous emptiness and weightlessness, which would instantly deprive the viewer of the opportunity to see the true messages. Undoubtedly, without acting, Margita's mastery of the story would have seemed too trivial, and the film would hardly have been so successful.
Ivan Burnev is also very convincing in the role of his husband Mladen, who is a loving father, but unfortunately also an absolute loser, whose recklessness almost leaves his family on the street. The actor Stefan Denolubov also deserves a standing ovation, which recreates an extremely repulsive but also frankly real image. He plays a pawnshop owner who, with his unpleasant behavior, makes you want to throw a stone at him.
The movie is a long series of lessons. But as we know, we will receive our lessons while we are alive. The most important truth is that in a world dominated not by morality and principles, but by blackmail, corruption, hypocrisy and threats, hope will hardly find ways to preserve it. And when despair and the pursuit of survival reach a tipping point, the poles turn and the arrows of the moral compass start pointing in the other direction.
The injustices Nadezhda is experiencing are a dramatic series of life lessons that at one point escalate to justifiable insanity. Yes, in a moment of utter despair, people are doing crazy things they wouldn't have thought of before, but can we blame them for trying to keep themselves and those they love.
You can read the New York Times page movie review, produced by film critic AO Scott.