In Bloom

Natia and Eka are close friends weathering the highs and lows of early adolescence. 

Around them, Georgia is in the throes of civil war. The country's dangerously volatile state exacerbates and mirrors the girls' own.

The girls' friendship crosses Tbilisi's social and economic boundaries. But as they turn from children to adults, they are expected to follow increasingly different paths and their relationship is tested.

The film's title carries a bitter sting of irony, heading a fraught and complex depiction of coming of age at odds with its romantic denotations. 

The film is based upon director Nana Ekvtimishvili’s own experiences of growing up in 1990s Georgia. The needling detail of its depiction of Georgia's recent past suggests those autobiographical origins.

Ekvtimishvili also drew on the Georgian cinema she grew up watching, including the many Soviet-era films by Georgian directors. 

Natia and Eka are played by first time actors Lika Babluani and Mariam Bokeria, whose frank performances are impossible to look away from.

In the New York Times, A. O. Scott wrote that the girls are "enigmatic in the way that nonprofessional screen acting can be in the hands of a sensitive director. The viewer has to guess at emotions that the characters themselves may not quite understand."

 

The film takes a minimalist, fragmented approach to its narrative, enveloping the audience in Tbilisi's fractured society of furtive meetings, chance encounters, and jealous secrets.

In the Washington Post, Stephanie Merry observed that:

"The complete story never comes into focus. That sense also is reflected in the way the movie is shot. In a scene where Eka is dancing during a wedding reception, we never see her feet, even as the other guests are hollering in appreciation."

With In Bloom, Nana Ekvtimishvili gives Georgia its own Elena Ferrante novel in cinematic form, telling vital social history through the most intimate interactions of arrestingly real lives.

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