Georgia on My Mind, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi
For a dramatic coming-of-age film about two teenage girls, In Bloom certainly feels realistic. Set in Georgia (the country, not the state famous for peaches) in 1992, Most of the shot compositions consist of wide shots, whether they take place in a classroom or a dining room. The scenes may deal with intense subject matter (a family fight over the dinner table, a gang fight in the middle of the street), but everything feels so detached as a result of the cinéma vérité stylings that it’s hard to get very invested in the story. Directors Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß have crafted a story with natural, realistic performances that is all for naught. The devotion to realism is to be commended, but it comes at the cost of any real emotional heft to the narrative.
Bored at school, Natia (Mariam Bokeria) and Lika (Eka Khizanishvili) explore the dangerous Georgian streets and countryside. The hunky Lado (Data Zakareishvili) gives Natia a gun and loads it for her. This is a nice surprise, but how it unfolds onscreen is disturbingly subtle. Lado unwraps the gun and gives it to Natia very casually. While another film might play this scene for suspense, In Bloom plays the scene as no big deal. There is no swelling music on the soundtrack or intense shots of nervous eyes darting around. For Lado, a gun is a tool for protection on the streets. Nothing more, nothing less.
Drab and depressing, In Bloom is so convincing in its realism that I’d rather watch a documentary about the plight of youths in Georgia circa 1992 instead. If a movie is going to be so rigid in crafting a realistic setting, it should have real movement to the story. Little here is invigorating. There are some nice ideas on display, but the story is so choppy that it feels like you are reading someone’s diary and skipping over to random passages at a moment’s whim. In Bloom could have used humor, a more dynamic visual style, or some explosive characters. Instead, everything is so muted that my reaction was as well.