Our film for January is SINCE OTAR LEFT (in French, with English subtitles) 2003. Winner of the prestigious Critics’ Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Set in a crumbling Tbilisi, Georgia in 2003, it’s spoken half the time in Georgian/Russian & half the time in French with English subtitles.
Julie Bertuccelli’s first feature is suffused with indelible humanist values and emotions. The touching story of three generations of Georgian women, the film is effectively made, superbly acted and, at its centre, has a matriarch much like the ones who appeared in John Ford films.
Bertuccelli’s documentary experience shows in the way she lets us soak in people and places before a plot emerges to shape bitter truth and familial affections into serio-comic deception. It’s lovingly done, scenes of the women washing each other’s hair or massaging granny’s feet expressing their affections more readily than words, yet the film offers even more than warming humanity. With a light dusting of Arvo Pärt on the soundtrack, proceedings patiently build in emotional resonance until a final surprising and moving confrontation with the City of Light. Ninety-year-old Gorintin is the absolute star, touchingly wise yet friskily coquettish, in one of 2003’s hands-down loveliest films.