Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Giorgi Babluani, Leo Gaparidze, Pascal Bongard, Stanislas Merhar
Directors: Gela Babluani, Temur Babluani
This interesting little Georgian film doesn’t boast a feel-good premise but raises many worthy points nonetheless. Sparsely but beautifully directed by father and son team Temur and Gela Babluani, and also starring Georges Babluani, it’s a family affair with a dash of Gallic flavour.
After hearing that one of them has inherited a castle in Georgia, three young French friends, Jean, Celine and Pat arrive in the capital Tbilisi to see exactly what the deal is. They hire an interpreter, Nikolai (Pascal Bongard) and begin a 2-day bus journey through the mountains in order to inspect their pile. During the journey they encounter an old man (Leo Gaparidze) and his grandson (Georges Babluani), who are travelling with an empty coffin. The friends learn that the two men are heading to the village of their enemy, where the grandfather is to be sacrificed to end the long-running rivalry between the two families. The tourists decide to follow the pair, caught between a morbid desire to witness this strange type of cultural justice and wanting to help.
The film highlights surprising and relevant parallels between long-time cultural traditions and the gang culture of today, and the influence of increasing tourism (and how it can be used as an excuse).
The French influence (the film is mostly in French with subtitles) is a homage to the fact that patriarch Temur Babluani sent his sons to be educated in Paris, in the hope that they would avoid the chaotic violence of the Georgian civil war and its resulting gangland warfare. His son and co-director, 28 year-old Gela Babluani, is already garnering critical acclaim for his first feature film, 13 (TZAMETI), the US remake of which he has been slated to direct this year.