Is it okay to admit to a dose of world-cinema fatigue? You might feel that reading about this drama set in post-Soviet Georgia in 1992. It’s another film about the intense, love-you-so-much-I-hate-you friendship between teenage girls. Even the title – ‘In Bloom’ – feels a bit déjà vu. But as arthouse coming-of-age films go, this is brilliant – smart and sensitive with a screw-you feminist streak. And it’s beautifully acted by two first-time actresses playing Eka and Natia, who have been friends forever.
Natia looks older and has a couple of boys following her around. One of them proposes outside her flat: ‘Let’s clear this up once and for all.’ Natia laughs and gives him her best put down (‘You’re an idiot’). A few days later the same guy drives up with a bunch of mates and snatches her off the street. In the next scene they’re getting married. In most countries that’s rape of a child and forced marriage. Here’s it’s bride kidnapping – now illegal in Georgia. What’s so shocking about the episode is how normal it is – even for Natia. Based on co-director Nana Ekvtimishvili’s childhood, this is thoughtful and moving.