This review was originally published on January 21, 2012…
Recently engaged Neli (Ana Stojanovska) returns to Bulgaria, leaving her American fiance Scott (John Keabler) behind. While her friends look to her for tales of her American life, and relatives project their hopes and dreams on her relationship with Scott, Neli finds herself drawn back into the orbit of friend and previous lover Val (Valeri Yordanov).
As Neli struggles with decisions about her future, she and Val disappear into their own world, going on a romantic vacation of comfortable impulses that appears to have a more powerful effect on Val than Neli, whose motivations and feelings are not very clear. Everything comes to an emotional head when Scott arrives unannounced, in an effort to reconnect with the suddenly uncommunicative Neli.
Kristina Nikolova’s Faith, Love and Whiskey at times feels like a very straightforward affair and, at other times, feels completely muddled. Scott’s motivations are clear: he loves Neli and wants to marry her. Val’s motivations are clear: he cares deeply for Neli and is happy that she is back, and hopes that she will forgo her new American life for a return to one with him. Neli’s motivations? Hard to say.
Is she using Val to get lingering feelings out of her system before committing to a lifetime with Scott? Does she not care for Scott to the extent that he feels she does? How much of her return to Bulgaria is about Val and how much of it is about recapturing an identity that she lost when she moved to America? Are the two forever intertwined?
In the end, you may ponder the same questions but I doubt we’ll always come to the same conclusions. There is a powerful sense of ambiguity (as opposed to a lazy sense of unfocused storytelling) that moves Faith, Love and Whiskey along. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m confident that the characters in the film don’t either; a disconcerting reality that is all too familiar.