Film note: And Then We Danced

I can easily recommend And Then We Danced, a breakthrough GTM from Georgia, as one of the decade's most accomplished and affecting.

Last updated on June 15th, 2022 at 02:40 pm

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And Then We Danced
Directed by Levan Akin
113 min, Georgia, 2019

Director Levan Akin’s autumnal-toned coming-of-age story from Georgia only achieves its full refulgent glory after nearly two hours of accumulating and repeating detail — the knotty muscles of lead character Merab’s lissome back and abdomen, as he bathes, as he sleeps, as he dances, as he fucks; the sharp line of his haircut’s part which he often hones in the mirror; the double-jointed bend of his elbows; the defiant set of his mouth when he’s dancing; the scratchy stubble of his older brother’s cheeks, and his stolid but depths-concealing expressions; the drunken, early-morning, demotic intimacy of a crowded bus; the bouncing floppy mop of a sheepherder’s hat and Orthodox cross as Merab prances shirtless on a dance-troupe outing; the unrequited doe-eyes and soft cheeks of Merab’s best girlfriend; the bulbous, yellow-sodium-lit kvevri behind which the two romantic leads fuck for the first time; and finally, perhaps the most important details of all, the perpetual scowls of the film’s two gatekeeping patriarchs and the ever-present, percussive accompaniment in the dance studio.

It might be easy to label these moments-to-moments as obsessively realist or minimalist or whatever inadequately descriptive generic adjective some careless critics apply to careful cinematic excavations like these, which are rarer and rarer these days. Or at least it would be barely excusable until the sweeping, handheld, single-take roving through a heterosexual, emergency-wedding party that appropriately recalls Sokurov’s The Russian Ark. The camera remains in the party, in the polyphonic tumult, and ends its unseen observation by framing the courtyard outside a window to find Merab escaping into the arms of a friend, a move that prefaces his brother’s later encouragement for him to escape completely out of Georgia —

Where he can be free? We can’t know. But at least he’ll be free to dance as he pleases.

Further Reading

Written with StackEdit.

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