Berlin International Film Festival — Day 2

68th Berlin International Film Festival — Day 2


Horizon


2) Hori­zon, or Hor­i­zon­ti (Georgia/Sweden, 2018)

Dur­ing the Q&A with cast and crew of Geor­gian co-pro­duc­tion Hori­zon by Tinatin Ka­jr­ishvili – whose di­rec­to­r­i­al de­but Brides had been nom­i­nat­ed for the Best First Fea­ture Award at the Berli­nale in 2014 – she told us she had come up with the end­ing of the film and then worked her way back­wards to cre­ate a sto­ry that would lead to that point. Con­sid­er­ing what Hori­zon turned out to be, this makes com­plete sense; and, when asked by a mem­ber of the au­di­ence what the end­ing was sup­posed to mean, she gave us an an­swer that I was cer­tain I was go­ing to hear: that not even she is sure, and that it is up to the view­ers to de­cide.

Now, if this could in­di­cate a film that dwells on am­bi­gu­i­ties and un­der­stands the com­plex­i­ty of feel­ings and de­ci­sions, this un­for­tu­nate­ly is not the case here. Hori­zon be­gins when a bro­ken-heart­ed man called Gior­gi (Gior­gi Bo­cho­r­ishvili) leaves the city to get away from his col­laps­ing mar­riage with Ana (Ia Sukhi­tashvili). As he iso­lates him­self in a small bar­ren is­land, in a cab­in by the sea, mem­o­ries creep in (along with the win­tery cold) in flash­backs that let us know why he went there. Sur­round­ed by strangers and trees, Gior­gi is caught be­tween his in­abil­i­ty to face his wife’s hap­pi­ness with some­one else and the hard­ship of be­ing alone.

Gior­gi sees him­self com­plete­ly out of his turf among peo­ple who spend most of the day drink­ing and fish­ing (he doesn’t drink or eat fish), which doesn’t help his mis­ery. The film works quite well in the way it ex­plores his iso­la­tion, in­vest­ing most­ly in diegetic, im­mer­sive sounds of the na­ture and hunt­ing shots around him (we can hear a timid pi­ano score only twice), and re­ly­ing on a beau­ti­ful cin­e­matog­ra­phy full of tones of dark green and gray. There are many evoca­tive scenes us­ing less light as well, es­pe­cial­ly in Giorgi’s cab­in, and lat­er a shot of the place cov­ered with snow be­fore a frozen lake which is ab­solute­ly breath­tak­ing in its placid­i­ty.

But still, even though we learn more and more about Gior­gi and what ails him as flash­backs tell us how much his wife loves him (not as a hus­band but as a mem­ber of the fam­i­ly, de­spite be­ing forced to take some mea­sures to keep him away once he be­gins to stalk her), there is some­thing else be­sides his ob­ses­sive char­ac­ter that pre­vents us from re­lat­ing to him. At first, I thought it was be­cause Bo­cho­r­ishvili is not good enough an ac­tor to con­vey all the in­tense emo­tions that Gior­gi must be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing (in fact, he is not able to ex­press his con­fu­sion well enough ei­ther), but it is not only that. There is also a prob­lem with what the film wants to do.

We see that Gior­gi is an “old-fash­ioned guy” – an ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion that, not sur­pris­ing­ly, ex­tends to threat­en­ing to choke the woman he loves (oh “l’amour fou,” right?) He re­fus­es the “ser­vices” of an ea­ger lady in a ho­tel, turns down a job to mod­ern­ize an old build­ing and car­ries in­side the kind of ro­man­tic hope that is ba­si­cal­ly delu­sion­al (“I knew you would come,” he says to Ana when she shows up to beg him to re­turn). He tries to be open to this mod­ern sit­u­a­tion and to see­ing Ana with an­oth­er man, but he can’t, even if he wants to start anew and is shown to be an es­sen­tial­ly good man who would jump into an icy-cold lake to save someone’s life.

There is a lot of ma­te­r­i­al here for a deep dra­ma, but the ac­tor doesn’t de­liv­er and the film nev­er man­ages to de­vel­op Giorgi’s re­la­tion­ship with the folks in the is­land. We are forced to fol­low his new bor­ing life with those bor­ing peo­ple as if this could of­fer him any sort of pos­si­bil­i­ty, but the fact is that Hori­zon takes for grant­ed our in­vest­ment, which be­comes ev­i­dent when it tries to make us feel for the fate of an old lady we know noth­ing about. As the plot drifts along with­out a clear di­rec­tion, it gets hard­er to care about a film that doesn’t know where it wants to go or what it wants to say, reach­ing an end that feels like a trag­ic cop-out.

And that is what sad­ly makes the last scene (the director’s first idea) emp­ty and mean­ing­less as if it ac­tu­al­ly be­longed in an­oth­er movie.

Feb­ru­ary 17, 2018


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