Javor Gardev’s stylish noir is an entertaining if overstuffed entry into genre — shot in luminous black and white, it features enough flourishes to fill two movies: copious nudity, both male and female; hardboiled voice-over narration; a mysterious missing diamond; a sage cellmate; a sexy femme fatale; violence; elaborate set design; multiple narrative flashbacks; pretentious dialogue quoting the likes of Voltaire; and much more.
Zift's non-linear story line opens in 1944 Bulgaria where Moth (Zahary Baharov) is a tough guy with a poetic side. When he meets the lovely Ada (Tanya Ilieva), a plaid-skirted schoolgirl, he tells us that her “voice is like plum jam.” And how about this at the sight of her white panties: “The crotch invitingly loose, her flesh seeking touch.”
It’s not long before Ada is pregnant, which apparently forces Moth to support his burgeoning family by planning the heist of a diamond hidden in an African statuette’s penis.
Of course, the job goes awry and Moth is jailed. While there he meets Van Wurst the Eye (Mihail Mutafov), a gnarly fiftysomething with a glass eye and a misogynistic streak. He tells Moth, “To find peace you have to cut off your ties with the world, especially with women. Man is a living coral until he’s touched by the Woman. When the woman touches him, hell touches him.”
What follows essentially proves Van Wurst correct, most overtly illustrated by a heavy-handed praying mantis metaphor. Grade: B-
CINCINNATI WORLD CINEMA screens Zift at 6:30 Nov. 1 and 7:30 Nov. 3 at The Carnegie in Covington. Find more information on the film and tickets at www.cincyworldcinema.org.