GLORY, drama, not rated, in Bul­gar­ian with sub­ti­tles, The Screen,

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The eco­nom­i­cally de­prived na­tion of Bul­garia has ac­com­plished some­thing that’s stymied Hol­ly­wood for decades. Namely, it has pro­duced a win­ning team of film­mak­ers who hap­pen to be hus­band and wife.

is the sec­ond fea­ture film co-di­rected by the mar­ried duo of Kristina Grozeva and Pe­tar Valchanov, af­ter the pair be­gan col­lab­o­rat­ing on shorts and TV doc­u­men­taries. I can’t think of a sin­gle hus­band-and­wife di­rect­ing team at work in Hol­ly­wood to­day, although the in­dus­try doesn’t shy away from co-di­rec­tors who are broth­ers — Joel and Ethan Coen, for in­stance, or Chris and Paul Weitz, or the Far­rellys, or the Hughes. Judg­ing from a hus­band-and-wife team­ing can be richer and re­veal so much more.

As with the Ro­ma­nian New Wave of the 2000s, these Bul­gar­ian film­mak­ers are deeply in­volved in ex­pos­ing the tri­als of a former Soviet-bloc na­tion un­der­go­ing a rough tran­si­tion to­ward cap­i­tal­ism. The story, drawn from news­pa­per head­lines, in­tro­duces a rail­road line­man from the coun­try­side who shocks ev­ery­one when he finds a pile of loose cur­rency strewn along the tracks and turns it in. The press has been hound­ing the tran­sit agency for some time, cit­ing graft and cor­rup­tion, which gives the agency’s pub­lic-re­la­tions chief a bright idea: In­vite the yokel in and re­ward him with a new dig­i­tal watch.

But life is never so sim­ple. Mar­gita Go­sheva, who plays the stuffy PR wun­derkind Ju­lia, is ex­ceed­ingly rude and con­de­scend­ing, par­tic­u­larly when she meets the awk­ward line­man, Tsanko (Ste­fan Denolyubov), who is so so­cially in­ept that he has no friends. His clos­est com­pan­ions are pi­geons that he raises. Ju­lia has a tough time turn­ing this shy bum­bler into a god­send for the agency. Still, with ad­vanced stagecraft, she nearly works a miracle — that is, un­til she mis­places a prized fam­ily heir­loom, a watch that Tsanko must re­move in or­der to ac­cept the new time­piece. That pushes him over the edge, so much so that he be­gins to wage war against the agency, its cor­rupt lead­ers, and its petty-thiev­ing em­ploy­ees.

opens as a po­lit­i­cal par­ody, but evolves into some­thing more en­gag­ing — more of a dark thriller with a strong bite to it. Grozeva and Valchanov also co-wrote the story with De­cho Tar­alezhkov. Valchanov also served as editor, and his work is one of the clear strengths be­hind this drama. The other as­set: hav­ing both a man and a woman share the di­rect­ing. I don’t know if Grozeva did the ac­tress’ scenes, or if Valchanov did those with the line­man, but they have dif­fer­ent rhythms that dis­tinc­tively de­fine these char­ac­ters and their very sep­a­rate worlds. The two watches — the old hand-wound piece from Rus­sia and the cheap new dig­i­tal model — also be­come mar­velous sym­bols, rep­re­sent­ing a world that is not quite so grand. — Jon Bow­man

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