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Monday, January 20, 2014

In Bloom Movie Review

It's 1992, in Tbilisi, the capital of the republic of Georgia. A brutal war is being fought in the northern Abkhazia region, far enough away to not be part of the daily lives of the people, but close enough that Tbilisi does somewhat feel its impact.

Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria) are 14-year-old girls that live in Tbilisi. They are very close to each other, and they are doing what we all try to do: make the best of a bad situation. All of the adults in "In Bloom" communicate with each other and to the girls in one of two ways. They either scream incessantly at everyone else they see, or they threaten to hurt or actually hurt each other physically. When bread is delivered by truck, the citizens line up, with lots of jostling for position, and the occasional fistfight and kidnapping. This is a high strung place to live.

Natia's home is more volatile than Eka's. Her parents are at each other's throats and her grandmother is part of the festivities, too. Eka's house has the advantage of no father in residence. He's in jail for murder.

Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross co-wrote and directed "In Bloom" and they paint a very dark view of life in Georgia during the 1990's. Their focus among all this strife is on the two young girls and the plight of females in this society. Certainly there is nothing here to make you want to plan your next vacation in Tbilisi, but Ekvtimishvili and Gross pay particular attention to what it is like to come of age for a young woman in this time and place.

Natia is the first of the two to garner attention from a local boy named Lado. It all seems very sweet until Lado gives Natia a hand gun as a gift to protect herself. Now that we know a gun is in play, we are waiting to see to what use it will be put. Natia has another suitor. He is not nearly as sweet as Lado. His advances are constantly rebuffed by Natia, so he takes the most logical step and kidnaps Natia. When we next see her, she is married to the thug that kidnapped her. Apparently this was common practice in the area at that time.

The rest of "In Bloom" is awaiting how the situation will be resolved between Natia, Eka, Natia's husband and Lado. Everything up until this point does not indicate a fairy tale ending, but I will tell you that it does not end up in the way you will probably think it will.

"In Bloom" is stark, unflinching, depressing, and almost without any joy at all. Yet Ekvtimishvili and Gross have delivered something solid, and despite its dark view of life in Tbilisi, you can't help but hang in there. Part of the reason is the acting of this cast of non-professionals. Their realness translates to the screen and Ekvtimishvili and Gross direct them in a way that makes them entirely believable. Entertaining reality is in full bloom.

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