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New Release Review - In Bloom

Two 14-year-old girls come into possession of a gun in the newly independent Georgia of 1992.

Directed by: Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Gross
Starring: Lika Babluani, Mariam Bokeria, Zurab Gogaladze, Data Zakareishvili




The newly independent state of Georgia is rocked by civil war in 1992. In a suburb of the capital, Tbilisi, 14-year-old friends Eka (Babluani) and Natia (Bokeria) are taking advantage of the absence of male authority figures to rebel against the constraints of their male-dominated society, one where women marry in their teens and seem destined to spend the rest of their days with a dish cloth permanently slung over a shoulder. A local boy, Lado (Zakareishvili), presents Natia with the gift of a pistol, worried about the growing danger sweeping the nation. Feeling her friend requires it more, however, Natia gives the gun to Eka, who is frequently harassed by a pair of young boys.
Chekhov famously decreed that if a gun is introduced in a dramatic work's first act, it must by necessity be fired in its final act. The Georgian / German directing duo of Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross have purposely ignored the Russian playwright's advice, in the process bucking the conventions of the gun movie. Over cinema's history, scores of movies have used the gun as a source of empowerment, and film-makers have given us plenty of gun obsessed young women, from Gun Crazy's Peggy Cummins to Ms. 45's Zoe Lund. The young protagonists of In Bloom feel no such sense of thrill from their weapon, rather a sense of shame.
Seeing a young boy receive a savage beating from a pair of street thugs, Eka scares the aggressors off by brandishing her newly acquired weapon. The scene is a staple of movies, usually boosting the self-esteem of our hero, who in today's superhero obsessed world might go on to don a costume and fight crime. Young Eka, in contrast, is disgusted by the power the gun gives her. In male-centric Georgia, the pistol is yet another phallus, one Eka doesn't want to be reliant on.
At first, Eka admires Natia for her strength and independence. She's crushed when, following an abduction from a bread-line by an aggressive male suitor, Natia agrees to wed her abductor. In the film's most effective moment, Eka performs a traditional dance at the wedding, but refuses to make eye contact with the rest of the guests. Eka is performing her traditional role as a Georgian woman, but it's not a scenario she's happy with.
In Bloom is a polished piece of cinema, with a stunning central performance from the young Babluani, and the cinematography of Romanian master Oleg Mutu (responsible for similarly striking work on last year's Beyond the Hills), captures a second world state in first rate style.
7/10


Eric Hillis

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