FEATURE | In Bloom

In Bloom is set against a turbulent historical backdrop, a context that seeps through the film's loaded objects. By Louis Rogers


Chekov’s famous dictum dictates that if a gun is introduced in the first act, it must be fired in the second. But as Ernest Hemingway noted, Chekov’s formula is revealing about the way we read narratives as well as write them: peripheral details hum with potential significance and to a wary reader (or viewer), no object feels innocent in a plot’s machinations. 

A gun appears early on in Nana Ekvtimishvili’s In Bloom. Natia, a teenage girl living in Tbilisi, is given it by her friend Lado. The weapon’s introduction into a circle of volatile young adolescents is foreboding; its Chekhovian deployment feels inevitable. In fact, it comes dangerously close to being used but ultimately it is thrown into a lake unused, its terrible potency recognised and rejected.

In Bloom is set against a turbulent historical backdrop: the Georgian civil war that succeeded the country’s restored independence. This context seeps through in the objects characters interact with: peeling political posters; bread rations which soldiers commandeer; a hidden box of Eka’s father’s letters and cigarettes; and, most palpably, Natia’s gun. The war is not experienced as a cohesive, historical whole but as a series of intractable things. Ekvtimishvili’s film reflects the philosopher Graham Harman’s assertions of the fragmented, unitary character of reality: “The world is not just one; it is also many. It is not made up solely of pieces that push beyond themselves and lose their identity … its pieces are also terminal points, closed off neighbourhoods that retain their local identity despite the broader systems into which they are partly absorbed.”

With Georgia’s cinematic output gaining long overdue global recognition, In Bloom is a preeminent early example of its efflorescence, deftly expressing still-raw political and social experiences on the intimate and tactile scale of everyday life. The gun is not fired; Chekov’s dictum is left unfulfilled. But the scars left indirectly on the characters’ lives reflect the steady, surreptitious injury that warfare enacts on civilian life with terrible acuity.  

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