In Bloom, directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross, was Georgia’s official entry for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It won Best Film at the 2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival.
This dark realist tale set in 1992 follows two friends, Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria), trying to survive adolescence and marriage in the fiercely patriarchal society of Tbilisi, Georgia. The film is a bleak view of life in Georgia, with a clear focus on the violence seething just beneath the surface of everyday life – the sudden appearance of a gun seems to shock no one. Eka and Natia do suffer, but they are completely defiant and, crucially, independent of the cruel masculine world around them. That the film’s traditional narrative ultimately plays out in an unexpected direction is both a statement of the originality of the filmmakers and the honesty of their feminist agenda.
As far as the mechanics of the plot go, the film is not overly unique, but works on the intensity of its performances, and the toughness and integrity of its approach. It is beautifully shot, the handheld camera discovering and lingering on aesthetically pleasing moments as it goes, finding beauty in images of breadlines and urban decay. It is passionate, socially aware film-making with complex long takes that capture raw humanity more evocatively than most documentaries. It is also pleasantly optimistic where it could have been depressing.
The performances are very good: particularly non-professional young actors Babluani and Bokeria, who bring more experience, emotion and honesty in their roles than their ages (14 during filming) would suggest possible. They demand and hold one’s attention and empathy throughout.
In the end, the film is a rich, realistic and moving story about friendship and defiance.
In Bloom is released nationwide on 2nd May 2014.
Watch the trailer for In Bloom here: