IN BLOOM

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4 stars
In Bloom is certainly one of the more angst-ridden films to hit cinemas in recent years.
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The civil war which swept through the Balkans in the early 1990's is a backdrop to the unshakeable friendship of two Georgian schoolgirls, Eka and Natia (Lika Babluani, Mariam Bokeria), whose lives are punctuated by alcoholism, violence, and daily abuse.

As they navigate their hostile teacher, horrendous bread queues, Marina's frightful parents, town bullies and local rebels, things get potentially worse when Natia's doting friend Lado (Data Zakareishvili) gives her a gun for protection. As one character dolefully notes, “Georgians have always been warlike”.

It makes some sense of the anguish and desperation that surrounds the girls, particularly when Natia is 'kidnapped' into marriage by a hotheaded young man jealous of her friends. By now, that lone bullet in the gun has many targets. This disturbing film by co-directors Nana Ekvitmishvili and Simon Gross unfolds with compelling precision as they examine women trapped in a cycle of violence that seeks to decimate Georgia's crumbling society.

Yet Eka is from an educated family without male role models and hers is the story of hope that, entwined with Natia, one that suggests a way forward for both women assuming they can extract themselves from the despairing grip of men who won't stop fighting each other. And that brings us back to the gun.

Anchored by some distressingly good performances and Ekvitmishvili keen eye for detail, In Bloom may well be an angst-ridden experience, but it's also one of the best examples of its kind you'll see this year.

// COLIN FRASER

Previewed at Chauvel Cinema, Sydney on 17 September 2014
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STARRING
Like Babluani
Mariam Bokeria
Zurab Gogladze

DIRECTOR
Nana Ekvtimishvili
Simon Gross

SCREENWRITER
Nana Ekvitmishvili

COUNTRY
Georgia / Germany / France (subtitles)

CLASSIFICATION
MA15+

RUNTIME
102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN
RELEASE DATE
September 25, 2014
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In Bloom (2013) on IMDb
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