Since Otar Left

Directed by Julie Bertucelli

Movies Reviews Julie Bertucelli
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Since Otar Left

Rare is the inter-generational family drama that doesn't feature cutesy kids and a heart-warming message. But Since Otar Left, a movie from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, doesn't have a single child actor or cloying moment. Instead, it's the story of three generations of women in a small Georgian town. The grandmother is 90, the mother is a middle-aged widow, and the youngest is a skinny but pretty woman who speaks fluent French but has no real prospects for either a job or marriage. The unseen character is Otar, the grandmother's son and the mother's brother, who has left for Paris seeking work. The grandmother dreams of visiting him before she dies, but the mother and daughter have a secret they're trying to keep.

The film does a beautiful job of portraying these women and their family ties: how they do and don't get along, how they adapt to and yet irritate each other. When Otar calls early in the movie, the three women fight over the phone, competing for his attention. When the grandmother fondly recalls living under Stalin, the other two women do their best to hold their tongue. The best parts of Since Otar Left, though, focus on the three women around the house and how they live. There's a wonderfully lived-in quality to the movie.

The acting is top notch as well. Esther Gorintin as the grandmother will get most of the kudos given her age, but it's Dinara Droukarova as the youngest woman who really stands out. The climax of the film threatens to get overly sentimental, but writer and director Julie Bertucelli, in her film debut, knows exactly when to pull back.