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by Vadim Rizov
Ilian Metev’s deliberately small-scale, extremely precise 3/4 puts a trio of non-actors through their fictional paces. The family unit: teen classical pianist Mila (Mila Mihova), preparing for an audition that, if all goes well, will let her continue her studies in Germany; oft-annoying younger brother Niki (Nikolay Mashalov); physicist dad Todor (Todor Veltchev). (Mom is unseen: I’m the umpteenth to note that the title is both a time signature and way of noting that three out of four family members are present.) Mila’s stress over this impending potential pivot point in her life is transferred onto father and son, who react in different ways. Niki is a typical incorrigible younger brother, full of useless energy that comes out in the most annoying ways. “You’re draining so much energy,” Mila tells him. “That’s what I’ll miss most.” That’s in an affectionate moment: a more typically testy exchange is “Leave me alone”; “I can’t.”
Film - Shot - Frequency - Option - Day
3/4 is yet another recent film shot in the classical 1.33 square: this has been happening with such increasing frequency that it almost feels like it’ll be back as a normative option at the multiplex any day now. Metev shows conspicuous chops in the very first shot: a downward-facing tracking shot across pavement, with a plastic bottle being kicked back and forth slicing the frame horizontally and scooters breaking it vertically before settling in on Niki. Aftewards, Metev sticks largely, though not exclusively, to medium close-ups: the frame is comfortably and unostentatiously occupied by people considered up close, with little other to distract from paying close attention to them. There are no dramatic incidents of note, which is not the same thing as saying that “nothing happens”; there’s practice sessions, walk-and-talks, dinners being made, all building to a few moments of crisis. Acting as his own...
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