Dir.: Iosep ‘Soso’ Bliadze; Cast: Nutsa Kukhianidze, Iva Kemeridze, Eka Chavleishvili, Archil Makalatia, Taki Mumladze, Vakho Chachanidze, Marlen Egutia; Georgia/Germany/Lithuania 2021, 107 min.
Georgian Iosep ‘Soso’ Bliadze comes to Karlovy Vary for the first time with this complex and well-written debut. Otar’s Death is a mature psychological drama set in Tbilisi and the surrounding countryside contrasting two very different life styles with irony and sensitivitiy .
Sixteen-year old Nika (Kemeridze) lives with his mother Keti (Kukhianidze), who is really too young to be taking proper care of her fatherless son in a rented flat in Tbilisi, while also holding down a freelance job selling cosmetic products to friends and neighbours. Nika has a girlfriend, Ana (Mumladze) who is the same age as Keti but far more confident. Keti rather neglects her son, and even when she drives him to a lake in the countryside, she takes her girlfriend along too so Nika is left to his own devices while the two women are preoccupied with their own interests.
Nika soon get bored and drives home in his mother’s car, even though he has no driving licence. But she insists he collects her on the way home although it’s already nearly dark. in the dimly streets, the ensuing tragedy is pivotal to the plot development, Nika causing an accident that involves the titular Otar Egutia) in front of his house.
The doctor declares Otar dead, and when Keti arrives, she makes a bargain with Otar’s daughter Tamara (Chavleishvili) to keep her son out of jail. But raising the money proves almost impossible: the bank will not give her credit without collateral and her family cannot help
Finally, she visits old flame Zaza (Mumladze), a former lover, who has served time in prison, but is now married with a child. Meanwhile, Nika’s mental health suffers and he goes on the rampage causing more problems.
Meanwhile back at the mortuary, the mortician makes a surprising discovery, Tamara insisting on going ahead with her agreement with Keti.
Tamara’s son Oto (Makalatia) who has watched his mom play the cello in the barn, is against her taking the money, and sets fire to the barn. Next morning, Otar goes hunting near a lake with his dog, after having had a good breakfast. Which leaves a distraught Nika, who takes a bus to the lake he visited days ago.
The importance of a well worked out script cannot be over-estimated: here, everything flows, and the protagonists find always new ways of relating to each other. In spite of the gruelling topic and violence, Bliadze always has time for some dark humour. The two women leads, Kukhianidze and Chavleishvili, are brilliant, and DoP Dimitri Dito Dekanosidze comes up with great establishing shots, and wonderful panoramic shots of Tiblisi, with the cable cars acting as special extras. A true discovery.
EAST OF WEST | Karlovy Vary FILM FESTIVAL 2021