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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tribeca Review: Debut Director Tinatin Kajrishvili Challenges The Meaning Of Love And Commitment In The Georgian-French Drama, 'BRIDES'

Maria Kitia (l) and Giorgi Mashkharshvili (r)

Before I saw director Ava Duvernay's Middle of Nowhere back in 2012, I could never grasp how relationships can sustain and prosper when one half of the couple is imprisoned. Does it matter what their crime is, the length of their sentence, whether or not they're married? What if they fall in love with someone else? Is that allowed?

These are all complex questions that Duvernay approached in the surprisingly touching film that could be a companion piece to the new Georgian-French drama, PATARDZLEBI (in English, BRIDES). Directed and co-written by first time filmmaker Tinatin Kajrishvili, BRIDES centers on Nutsa, a seamstress raising her two young children in an apartment she often shares with her mother. Though she finds some solace in her menial job, Nutsa (Mari Kitia) is overwhelmingly preoccupied with her increasingly strained relationship with husband Goga (Giorgi Maskharashvili), serving the remainder of a 10-year jail sentence. Spending her days trimming other people's clothes, caring for her children, and lining up for brief, wistful visits with her husband has begun to weigh on her, especially after a plan to work the system for Goga's release goes awry. When Nutsa's melancholy routine digs a hole too deep in her heart, she wonders how to move on without him.

Mashkharshvili and Kitia
While the premise is familiar, what springboards this emotive film is Kitia's lead performance. Her voice barely floats above a whisper, but when she can express Nutsa's story with few words--from her sluggish but determined movement to the deep sadness in her voice. Her exhaustion and sheer desperation seeps out of everything she says and does, but it is her crackling embodiment of hopelessness that is truly heartbreaking.

They say that death has four stages: shock, anger, numbness and indifference. Sometimes you experience them in a repeated cycle and some stages last longer than others, but they each are often present in the grieving process. Nutsa experiences a symbolic death in this story. At the time we meet her, she is numb--her now habitual life is consumed with longing and waiting. Though she shares her grief with other women who eagerly wait against the gates for those few minutes alone with their loved ones, Nutsa feels a particular sense of doom and crippling immobility. Compounded by the ever watchful eye of her mother, who reminds her of her obligation as a wife, Nutsa is alone to ponder whether there is more to life than this. And, if so, does she even want anything else?

A moving and surprisingly gentle story about love that challenges the meaning of commitment, BRIDES is a moving film by a promising debut director.

Rating: A (**** out of *****)

Watch the trailer:


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