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Tbilisi, 1992: the newly independent state of Georgia is torn by civil war in the provinces, and uneasy struggle in the capital. For 14-year-old best friends Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria), life is a mixture of girlish fun and family tensions. Class beauty Natia attracts the attention of not only the handsome Lado (Data Zakareishvili), but also local thug Kote (Zurab Gogaladze). It is Lado's gift of a pistol to Natia that fractures the lives of both girls and tests their relationship.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In the rubbish-strewn suburbs of Tbilisi, the angry bread queues are a form of civil war and in the homes, loud family rows are commonplace. But in the cocoon of their friendship, 14 year olds Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria) find harmony. At least for a while. The source of their eventual conflict is a boy - but not because he creates a romantic triangle, but because he doesn't.

Lado (Data Zakareishvili) is a tall, handsome, sophisticated young man who is clearly interested in Natia. But so is the unsophisticated, thuggish Kote (Zurab Gogaladze), who sets off a chain reaction when he and his friends kidnap Natia. Natia, although keen on Lado, submits to being named Kote's bride - much to Eka's ire.

This much reduced synopsis doesn't really reflect the experience the film provides; this is indeed what happens (and a bit more) but the filmmakers are focused on the characters and their interactions. So focused in fact that many scenes are shot with just close ups, the establishing shots never shown. Like Babluani's photogenic and interesting young face so captivates the filmmakers they hardly show her in context, even when she is dancing.

The story jumps here and there, and while we understand what is happening - or has happened - the lack of visual evidence for it tends to be unsatisfying. Much is made of the pistol that Lado gives Natia, although his reasons for it seem rather artificial; to protect herself. But he only has one bullet to give her, and while he promises more, they never eventuate. No matter, the pistol isn't about shooting people; it's a metaphor (and quite a literal one) for power. It passes between the girls, at times angrily, and it is the cause of friction when a tragedy, inevitably, overtakes them.

The performances are naturalistic and severe, especially the highly volatile families, where shouting matches are almost traumatising to hear and to watch. But there are also pauses and gaps in the action, and the film ends without having said enough to satisfy us and fully warrant 100 minutes of our time.

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(Georgia/Germany/France, 2013)

Grzeli nateli dgeebi

CAST: Lika Babluani, Mariam Bokeria, Zurab Gogaladze, Data Zakareishvili, Zurab Gogaladze, Ana Nijaradze, Maiko Ninua, Tamar Bukhnikashvili, Temiko Chichinadze, Berta Khapava

PRODUCER: Simon Groß, Mark Wächter, Guillaume de Seille, Nana Ekvtimishvili

DIRECTOR: Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Groß

SCRIPT: Nana Ekvtimishvili


EDITOR: Stefan Stabenow


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 25, 2014

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