Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
In Bloom: Submitted By Georgia
is the early 1990’s and teenaged Georgian Girls just what to have fun.
Unfortunately, Georgia is not a very fun place, combining the rationing of
Communism with the lawlessness of a rogue state. Nevertheless, two fourteen
year old school chums will try to get on with their lives as best they can in
Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Gross’s In
official foreign language Oscar submission, which opens this Friday in New
Khizanishvili is shier but perhaps wiser than her more socially confident best
friend, Natia Zaridze. Neither has an
ideal family life. For Khizanishvili, home
is a cold place, where she is largely ignored by her contemptuous older sister
and preoccupied mother. Her father is
conspicuously absent for reasons that will eventually be revealed. In contrast, Zaridze’s parents are constantly
battling each other, not so subtly paralleling the wider civil strife of the
also has one too many suitors: the comparatively sensitive Lado and the knuckle-dragging
Kote. Unfortunately, in her social
milieu, courtship is less about wooing and more about taking. Yet it is Khizanishvili
who is more troubled by their expected gender roles than the more directly
affected Zaridze. There also happens to
be a gun, a love offering from Lado, passing back and forth between the tweens.
a large extent, In Bloom simple
revisits the familiar working class angst some festivals never tire of programming. There are no surprises really anywhere in the
film, but it has its moments. In a
defining standout scene, Khizanishvili appeases her friend by dancing at her
wedding. While her movements are
sufficiently correct to please the revelers, her penetrating eyes betray all
her misgivings. It might actually be too
well staged and performed, because the rest of the film cannot match its power.
Lika Babluani and Mariam Bokeria are remarkably expressive and convincingly
natural as Khizanishvili and Zaridze, respectively. They look and sound like impulsive
schoolgirls, forced by circumstances to mature beyond their years. They own the movie in full, even though the
entire ensemble fit their roles like grubby, well-patched Communist era gloves.
Despite their deliberate pace, Ekvtimishvili
& Gross are a tad unfocused, veering between gender and class-based issue
dramas. Babluani and Bokeria are both
enormous young talents, arguably more deserving of the praise heaped on the Blue is the Warmest Color duo, but the
narrative is simply too drearily familiar.
There are memorably elements here, but they never really come
together. For the Georgian expat
community, it opens this Friday (1/10) in New York at the Angelika Film Center.
Labels: Coming of age films, Georgian Cinema