'Viktoria' milks its symbolism dry

( Unrated ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Viktoria' stars Katerina Angelova and Irmena Chichikova as a mother and daughter living in Bulgaria after the fall of Communism. 

Big World Pictures
'Viktoria' stars Daria Vitkova.

In “Viktoria,” by first-time Bulgarian writer-director Maya Vitkova, a baby girl is born in Bulgaria without a belly button. She is conceived in 1979, a decade before the breakup of Communism, and, like everything else in this lugubrious movie, this fact is intended symbolically. Following Viktoria’s navel-less entry into the world, party chiefs hail her as the “Baby of the Decade.” She becomes an abrasive preteen with a major superiority complex. When Communism falls, she is bereft in a society caught between the ways of the old and the new. 

Viktoria’s lack of a belly button is intended to represent the disconnect Bulgarians of this era felt from both their past and their future. But the symbolism is milked dry. It doesn’t help that all of the actors, including Katerina Angelova as the young Viktoria and Irmena Chichikova as her hard-bitten mother, seem near-catatonic. Vitkova’s direction is big on long lingering shots of dreariness. With a 2-1/2-hour running time, that’s a lot of dreariness. Grade: C- (This movie is not rated.)

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