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PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2021 11:27 am 
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JULIA DORACHKOUS: BEBIA, À MON SEUL DÉSIR (2021) - NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS 2021

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ANASTASIA DAVIDSON IN BEBIA A MON SEUL DESIR

A Georgian family drama seems hampered by its own ambition

This film from Georgia seems to want to be about a f--ked up young woman who cuts herself and works as runway model currently in London. But it gets all involved in staging the funeral of the girl's aged grandmother, with over-the-top professional mourners and various other screen-stealing characters of this neurotic family like the mother (Anastasia Chanturaia), a moody older brother, sententious father and various other characters, all pouty and full of themselves. Even Veronica Solovyeva's cinematography, in arty, shadowy black and white, vies for attention, and sometimes the cameraman likes to cut off the tops of people's heads or focus on one little thing and not let you see what's going on, which is no help.

Ariadna (Anastasia Davidson), the protagonist, is assigned a ritual task to link her dead grandmother's body to where she died, which involves traveling over the country unspooling a thread. This among other things occasions many flashbacks including to the "bebia," or grandma, herself, Medea (Guliko Gurgenidze). We have already seen her to be rather mean and pessimistic, brushing the girls' hair and telling her women's lives are just one generation after another doing the same things. At the funeral banquet somebody says she was a psychologically abusive teacher by her own admission: that fits. The ritual unspooling requires a fifteen-mile walk on which Ariadna is accompanied by Temo (Alexander Glurjidze), a young man who picked her up at the airport whom she doesn't know but who seems somehow now part of the family.

I'm indebted to the Variety reviewer for reminding me that Ariadne in the Greek myth, alluded to here, gets rescued from the Minotaur after helping Theseus navigate the labyrinth with the help of a thread. But not much is made of this theme, nor is this Ariadne transformed. She remains the same messed up young person at the end. Dobrachkous's film is full of ambition but, at least on the first go, doesn't seem to hit its targets, and is a turnoff from the get-go. She is trying to do too much at once. This is her first feature after working on two screenplays before. Some viewers seem enthralled. No doubt there will be more.

Bebia mon seul Désir, 118 mins., debuted Feb. 6, 2021 at Rotterdam (virtual), also showing at Seattle Apr. 9. It was was screened at home for this review as part of the MoMA/Film at Lincoln Center series New Directors/New Films (Apr. 28-May 8, 2021).

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