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In Bloom

Nana Ekvtimishvili’s often poignant and disturbing In Bloom has a limited current events significance. As Russia’s Vladimir Putin digests his recent acquisition of the Crimean peninsula, some observers are recalling Putin and Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, despite President George W. Bush’s objections and Putin’s promises.

In Bloom is set in the Georgian city of Tbilisi in 1992, not long after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Georgia’s independence from it. There are fleeting reports of the armed conflict in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia that would eventuate in the Russian occupation, but Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria), the movie’s 14-year-old protagonists, aren’t really aware of them. Their lives are absorbed in predictable adolescent concerns: boys, socializing, gossip and school, and their family life.

A Georgian production, In Bloom episodically traces several months in their lives, which are joined by their real friendship and their common experiences. As the movie advances, the lighter, more recognizable aspects of their sometimes stressed lives—Natia, for example, has a drunken, volatile father—are overcome by darker, more ominous events and concerns. The movie gradually works its way toward genuine tragedy.

A feature of the girls’ lives, one the movie never emphasizes but leaves no doubt about, is the deeply entrenched tradition of male dominance. It’s this aspect that contributes most directly to the baleful outcomes.

There are echoes of Francois Truffaut’s movies about very youthful experience to be discerned in this movie, but its untimely coming-of-age story has a darker, bleaker cast than his films.

Watch the trailer for In Bloom

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