When Otar left Georgia (as in Russia) behind, he also bid farewell to a sister, Marina (Nino Khomassouridze), and an elderly mother, Eka (Esther Gorintin), who happens to long for the days of Stalin (yes, she’s that old). Julie Bertuccelli’s Since Otar Left observes the many tight spots Marina and her daughter Ada (Dinara Droukarova) must maneuver when Otar dies and they decide to keep his death a secret from his not-so-fragile mother. Everyone is drawn into Marina and Ada’s web of lies, which is bound to unravel sooner or later. Things get extra prickly when Eka goes into cardiac shock and, after leaving the hospital, takes on the world (and Paris) by storm. Since Otar Left is meant to play out like a fable, but Bertuccelli’s direction isn’t nimble enough to carry it off. Because the logistics of the mother-daughter deceit usually trumps everything else (namely the blistering poverty of the characters’ lives), the film largely plays out like a Georgian version of Three’s Company. Can Marina and Ada keep the deception going on until Eka herself has died? What will they to do when Otar’s buddy comes to the house with a suitcase filled with the dead man’s belongings? Stay tuned! Things take a noticeable turn for the better when Bertuccelli isn’t straining to give her characters’ deceit a psychological contextualization, and in empowering Eka during the film’s final moments, the tediousness of the film’s first half is eased. The actresses are largely phenomenal at evoking a world of hurt with as little as a pained expression, and Bertuccelli fascinatingly uses a glass divider at a Paris airport terminal to emphasis the comfort her characters seek in silence. There’s a sweet profundity to this final sequence, probably because Eka is no longer part of the joke, but part of the family’s communal self-deception. Still, you get a sense that this aesthetic and emotional release is too little too late.
- Zeitgeist Films
- 102 min
- Julie Bertuccelli
- Julie Bertuccelli, Bernard Renucci
- Esther Gorintin, Nino Khomassouridze, Dinara Droukarova, Temour Kalandadze, Roussoudan Bolkvadze, Sacha Sarichvili, Souta Skhirtladze
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