Dir.: Marija Kavtaradze; Cast: Greta Grineviciute; Kestutis Cicenas, Pijus Ganusauskas, RimanteValiukaite; :Lithuania/Sweden/Spain 2023, 104 min.
Lithuanian writer/director Marija Kavtaradze’s sophomore feature explores different sexual needs within a heterosexual relationship.
Elena (Grineviciute) is an easy going dance instructor and choreographer in the world of modern ballet. Sex is important to her and she also enjoys male company unlike her close friend who has just entered a convent. Elena is wary of women, having suffered the negative impact her mother (Valiukaite) who wanted a tall slim classical dancer as a daughter, and still lets her known it.
Elena then meets sign language interpreter Dovydas (Cicenas) who will translate for a group of young hearing and speech-impaired dancers. Drawn to his attractive physique she is looking forward to jumping into bed with him only to discover he is cupiosexual, although he still wants a relationship with a woman. Elena is baffled, she has so far only dealt with men who are highly sexed. Dovydas is really in love with Elena, but is unable to consummate their relationship. After a rejection, Elena compensates with a fling with an old flame, but tells Dovydas all about it: “It was just for fun”. The two try to come to terms with Dovydas’ condition: he is not emasculated by Elena’s stronger sexual drive, and does not withdraw from her, as he might if suffering from sexual disfunction. That said, somehow they both suffer in different ways from the absence of sex. In a drunken state, they contemplate an open relationship, but both decide against it. Elena turns to her ex Vilius (Ganusauskas), in the hope of a ‘friends with benefits’ solution but he rejects the idea. But the final act gets rather bogged down in the couple’s attempts to find a modus vivendi, descending into remonstrations and protracted arguments.
Slow is actually two films in one, the rehearsals and performances of Elena’s dance troupe become engrossing in their own right. They show that Elena’s sexuality is very bound up in her physicality, and the form and function of her chosen career is only one step away from the sexual act itself. In contrast Dovydas is not at one with his body and its functions, and Elena finds it difficult to put herself in his shoes and cope with a man who is good-looking but sexually low-powered, just as she cannot get her mind around her friend opting for celibacy. DoP Laurinas Bareisa conjures up the grace and movement of the ballet scenes. Intellectually impressive, Slow’s lack of drive and continuity is the only flaw in this illuminating drama. AS
BEST DIRECTOR WINNER | WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC | SUNDANCE 2023