Seldom seen outside of the Balkans, this initial post-Communist Bulgarian entry for Academy Award consideration is a cardinal achievement by its nation's film industry, as it happens not as a vehicle illustrative of peasant aspects of a totalitarian governmental structure, but rather for its high production values, as it offers able direction, acting, and cinematographic skills. Twenty year old Malin (Mikhael Dontchev), when released from prison, having been incarcerated for assaulting his stepfather whom he saw committing what he believed to be a sexual attack upon Malin's mother Lily (Plamena Getova), returns to her home to demand from her information concerning his true sire, along with other details of his own childhood. Old love letters exist written to Lily from her only true love, and when Malin comes upon them he believes that this must be his father but, after he discovers that the man is not, he forces his mother to relate a narrative of their early years when together, and of occurrences that she was anxious to keep from him until her son's apparent loathing of her stimulates a need to reveal dire secrets, hoping that they will explain why she had not been a good mother. Through well-crafted flashbacks, the tragic existence of young Lily (Paraskeva Djukelova) is shown, as her first love is drafted into the army, after which she is raped, impregnated and ignored by Ivan (Petar Popyordanov), a young Komsonol official who is as a result of his act sentenced by a people's court to marry her, prompting her mother-in-law to falsely accuse her of being a prostitute. Subsequently, a general air of futility mark's Lily's days as she is tortured and debased in a bizarre labour camp for women, committed to an asylum for the insane, and betrayed by friends and lovers, and Malin soon understands that he must decide if his mother should be censured for what may not in fact be emotional abandonment of him. Based upon actual events, and filmed in Sofia and upon Black Sea shores, this work, almost entirely financed by the Bulgarian government, is an ofttimes deliberately shocking denunciation of a totalitarian state (hardly astonishing since director Evgeni Mihailov is answerable for a recording that effectively served to overturn the governance of the final Communist prime minister) yet the essential substance of its vitality is to be found within well edited sequences of a moralistic aesthetic, portraying those whose lot is to live beneath a suppressive social order. The title comes from young Lily's expressed wish to toddler Milan that "someday we'll have two canaries", a hope soon abandoned due to the wall of silence imposed by the state's "correction efforts", depicted here in this incisively majestic film that is smartly paced, splendidly edited, with creative camera-work by cinematographer Eli Yonova, and memorable performances by the well-cast Getova and Djukelova who shared Bulgarian Film Society awards for best actress of the year, joining other winners Mihailov (best direction) and Popyordanov (best actor).