Neorealism and Memoir
“In Bloom” came to be from the memories of writer-director Nana Ekvtimishvili’s youth in 1990s post-Soviet Georgia. She worked with co-director she Simon Gross and together they have captured those memories in every way possible so that we not only see and hear them but we actually feel some of them. In fact, we feel that we can actually touch and sense some of the visual objects and everything is very, very real.
We meet Eka (Lika Babluani), and view her adolescent friendship and bond with Natia (Miriam Bokeria) as they grow up in a moment of great upheaval and change. Daily life remains almost the same but around the girls things are moving very fast. It was not a good time in Georgia. There were breadlines and schools were run strictly. Families suffered and intolerance was the rule of the day. Violence as everywhere. Natia gets a handgun from a male friend and she is to use it for self-defense. The streets of the city are filled with period and this is shown quite clearly here.
Directors Ekvtimishvili and Gross give a film that is long on realism and we get the sense of what everyday life was then. The plot comes directly from the memory of Nana Ekvtimishvili and it follows inseparable friends Eka and Natia who are both fourteen years old and living in Tbilisi, the capital of the newly independent Georgia. Even with the violence, life just unfolds for Eka and Natia : in the street, at school, with friends or elder sisters who are already dealing with male dominance, early marriage and disillusioned love. Life just goes on.
“In Bloom” is the Georgian entry for 2014’s Best Foreign Language Film. Even with the violence going on around them, the two girls and almost ready to become women and this is especially difficult in the patriarchs; society in which they live.
Eka grows up with her distant mother and aloof older sister while her father is in prison (for a crime that is quietly mentioned later). Her only bond seems to be with the outspoken Natia whose and where her father drinks and beats her mother. Many of the Georgian citizens are already dead in spirit and they state at the world with empty eyes.However, everything changes when Natia is abducted by one of her suitors and finds herself married off in an acceptable custom known as bride kidnapping.
We begin getting uncomfortable when Natia receives her gun and there seems to be a lot of tragedy heading towards us. When there is violence, it is not what we expected what would happen. Natia and Eka take different paths— confident Natia is a kidnapped bride (her family would be shamed if she were to refuse the aggressive suitor), while Eka begins standing up to her teacher and her mom and sister who show her no attention.
The lead actresses turns in wonderful performances and we see a country dying as two young females come of age. They have created something of a sanctuary in their friendships as battle lines are drawn around them.
The two friends are inseparable and they try to find peace outside their family. Their days are filled with anxiety about what the future can possibly hold for them when the present is so full of the hardships and troubles. When Natia is ‘willingly’ married to a simpleton local who is much older, Eka must wait patiently in the wings for the opportunity to rescue her companion from her fate. Quite basically this a feminine look at the Soviet Union as it falls apart.