Friday, February 7, 2020

Movie with Abe: And Then We Danced


And Then We Danced
Directed by Levan Akin
To Be Released February 7, 2020

There are many careers and professions in this world, and what’s required is highly dependent on the type of work. Those who have a calling to work in the arts may spend almost every waking moment preparing to be the best, training and learning all they can so that, when the moment arrives, they can show the audience that matters what they can do. Those lucky enough to achieve success may feel that everything they have sacrificed on the way there was worthwhile, while those who get far but ultimately don’t meet their goals may wish they had done things differently.

Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) has always dreamed of being a famous dancer, training at the National Georgian Ensemble with his partner Mary (Ana Javakishvili). As he balances arduous preparation with a side job as a waiter, Merab must also contend with his family life, which includes his brother David (Giorgi Tsereteli), who is also a dancer but spends much more time getting into trouble. When a new dancer, Irakli (Bachi Valishvil) arrives, Merab becomes distracted, threatened by his talent but entranced by his personality and the allure of a forbidden romance.

This film, which takes place in Georgia and features multiple speeches about the cultural significance of Georgian dance, was actually the official Oscar submission from Sweden for Best International Feature this past year. The film has sparked considerable controversy and condemnation in Georgia, which makes its presentation of something that greatly defines the country particularly interesting. Merab feels a drive to contribute to something that has meant a lot to him throughout his life, and his commitment to his craft is only made greater as he attempts to find a way to express himself. His passion for whoever he desires should fuel his creative energy, though it’s never quite that simple, especially when it must be kept secret.

This film opens strongly with a swell of music guiding Merab’s movements, one that stops and starts frequently as he is pushed by his teachers to be better and to move more naturally. Gelbakhiani marks a startling and formidable film debut as Merab, imbuing him with a reserved eagerness that makes him character even more compelling. Opposite him, Valishvili exhibits a far more relaxed and perhaps even overconfident demeanor, and their chemistry is electric. While this film does lean a bit strongly into its protagonist’s downspiral, it finds its footing and remains properly tethered to its musical beat. It’s an affirming story featuring powerful performances that, if the attempts to prevent people from seeing it are any indication, truly deserves to be told.

B+