Since Otar Left (15)
Not yet rated
Time Out saysThe electricity's intermittent, people survive by selling their belongings, and even the toilet factory's awaiting foreign investment. Life's no breeze in post-Soviet Tbilisi, but there's camaraderie behind the daily bickering in the apartment shared by grandma Eka (Gorintin), daughter Marina (gritty Khomassouridze) and granddaughter Ada (distant-eyed Droukarova). Their lives, however, revolve around the absent Otar, Eka's beloved son, a qualified doctor who left for Paris. The old lady's devotion knows no bounds, leaving Marina feeling neglected, while Ada harbours her own dreams of escape. Bad news filtering through from the French capital may be about to change everything, but not perhaps if the doting grandmother remains happily in the dark. First time director Bertuccelli's documentary experience shows in the way she lets us soak in people and places before a plot emerges to shape bitter truth and familial affections into serio-comic deception. It's lovingly done, scenes of the women washing each other's hair or massaging granny's feet expressing their affections more readily than words, yet the film offers even more than warming humanity. With Otar maintaining a connection established by Eka's late French husband, and French even spoken at home, it's also a story of the tragic collision between la Belle France of their imagination and the harsh realities of East-West immigration. With a light dusting of Arvo Pärt on the soundtrack, proceedings patiently build in emotional resonance until a final surprising and moving confrontation with the City of Light. Ninety-year-old Gorintin is the absolute star, touchingly wise yet friskily coquettish, in one of 2003's hands-down loveliest films.