A girl is a woman is a country in the bold thunderclap of “Viktoria,” Bulgarian filmmaker Maya Vitkova’s magical mixed-genre widescreen debut feature. Young Viktoria, born without a bellybutton on the anniversary of the revolution, is named Socialist Baby of the Decade, and provided apparatchik-like privileges as she grows into a young woman in the final decades of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. After Bulgaria’s Communist structure disintegrates in 1989, daughter and mother become a forceful entity railing against indignity and hardships. Allegory? Fable? Fairytale? Myth? Yes, yes, yes, yes.
There is stark beauty in the two-and-a-half-hour duration of “Viktoria,” and writer-director-producer Vitkova tempts patience in her willfully wild shuffling of tone as often as she tantalizes with bursts of imagery bold and florid, but as often, elemental and fragrant. Poker-faced realism is the film’s currency, yet a lyrical urge and surrealist heartbeat announce themselves at gratifyingly steady intervals. History and family and faith and delicious delirium: “Viktoria” debuted at Sundance 2014, where’s Vitkova’s newest movie? This inventive, attentive cornucopia must suffice for now. 155m. (Ray Pride)
“Viktoria” opens Friday, May 13 at Facets
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.