Writer and Director: Yavor Petkov
A film crew goes to Eastern Europe to investigate money laundering but their subject, a town councillor and businessman, takes over proceedings. Rather than a dry documentary he wants to make Cinema, with him as the star. It will be called, he proclaims, ‘Danny. Legend. God, With full stops between each word.’ And this odd but original film is the result.
Presenter Susan, soundman Jamie and the unnamed cameraman have come to the anonymous town, in presumably Bulgaria, with a script and a schedule. But Danny wants the film to be about him, and instead of taking the crew to council meetings to undercover corruption, he shows off his house, his wife, his godson, and his bodyguard. Susan and her crew soon realise that Danny, despite his charm, is a violent bully who knows that real friends are gained with the help of money, and who, above all, is a natural in front of the camera.
It’s never made clear how far Danny’s influence extends, but the presence of Tanko, his tattooed bodyguard, seems to persuade every official he meets. He even threatens his godson’s teacher who has disciplined the boy at school for playing loud music in class. Danny invites the film crew along, thinking the footage will make him a hero. He also knows that he’s so powerful that no one will dissent. And we all know, from recent events, how easy it is for a bully to be elected into a position of power.
Susan soon becomes exasperated with Danny’s takeover, but Jamie and the cameraman agree to continue filming, sensing that Danny will hoist with his own petard. Surely, the town needs to know how nefarious one of its politicians is? But Danny seems invincible, sniffing cocaine and sleeping with prostitutes, all in front of the camera. Danny now has Oscars in his sight.
As Danny, Dimo Alexiev is incredible, smoothly dealing with the long shots where he has to pontificate while driving erratically along country roads or cutting lines of coke in a hotel room. He gives Danny a repugnant self-belief that still manages to be attractive in all the wrong ways. Eager, and wide-eyed, he’s also energetically sexist: and Alexiev manages it all with a manic verve, unravelling thrillingly in the nightclub scene.
He’s the best thing about the film, which otherwise meanders and seems a little flabby. There’s not quite enough story to warrant the running time (108 minutes) and Alexiev’s performance has nowhere to go. Not everyone is as comfortable in front of the camera as Alexiev, but Valentina Aleksandrova is the confident ex-girlfriend who is the only one unafraid of resisting Danny, and Suzanitta puts in good work as the self-obsessed influencer coerced to date Danny’s godson.
Danny. Legend. God. is Yavor Petkov’s debut feature, and although it lacks drama, there are plenty of streaks of originality running through this arch mockumentary. Although written, in part, as a response to the corruption in Petrov’s home country of Bulgaria, Danny. Legend. God. is nevertheless a funny, yet chilling, study of how the most unsuitable people become those who run the world.
Available now on Digital Download