Georgian cinema has become much more interesting, refined and versatile. Many young and talented directors joined it. Dark, depressive films of the same topic, created at the end of the last century and the beginning of the new one, have moved back. The screen lit up, got colored, the image became sharper, the number of films also increased and they started marching upright in the international arena. Some films arouse interest from the very beginning and the audience expects more, and some, on the contrary, seem to give no hope, but the story develops and transforms during the process in such a way that it fascinates the audience and deserves a proper reward.
Vano Burduli's film, "The Summer of Frozen Fountains" (2015) makes you expect to see something special right from the credits. The author of its script is David Chubinishvili. The cooperation of such a well-known and experienced screenwriter with a little-known director arouses more interest in the audience, especially if the cameraman is Goga Devdariani, who promises the best image to the viewer, not to mention the actors of the main and episodic roles of the film – the popular and famous actors of modern Georgian cinema: Nato Murvanidze, Ia Sukhitashvili , Nutsa Kukhianidze, Shota Christesahvili, Dato Darchia, Giorgi Nakashidze, Eka Nizharadze and others. As a result of this list, of course, there is an expectation that the film will be interesting, if not very good.
The director deals with humankind topics: love and betrayal at any age, death and traditions related to it, representation of a religious topic, father-son relationship, existence of representatives of different societies, pure, idealized, still untiring feelings of teenagers. The action mainly takes place in the colorful old part of the city, where you can still be fascinated by the magnificent buildings and narrow streets of the Art Nouveau style, we rarely find more urban, well-developed, crowded locations, which indicates the true urbanity of the actors, because the director introduces them more easily in their circle marital adultery is acceptable – if the husband cheats, the wife must retaliate in the same way.
All that was previously considered a sacred feeling is forgotten and paled. Even death is more a sight than a feeling and pain, in addition, the creator of material problems. The news of individual families is depicted in fragments. You get the impression that you are watching the fourth or fifth episode of the series, where the action of the film has been developed for a long time and only continues here. The actors also fail to show their characteristic artistry and skill, which we remember well from other films, even such a talented and memorable actor as Giorgi Nakashidze. The character he portrays is standing like a mannequin in the yard without saying anything (literally and indirectly) who, for some reason, is constantly waving a cat's kitten like a handkerchief. However, sometimes, mechanically, he caresses heartlessly. The coldness and soullessness that reigns in this world can be seen in every character. Even a caged dog is called a wolf. The idea of the director is to show us how everything in this world has been devalued, nothing real is left, everything has taken the form of a surrogate – both true relationships and any.
The relationship between father and daughter, which at first glance should show filial love and loyalty, is more like a duty, and usually starts and ends with a kiss on the forehead. The girl is always in a hurry, and the disabled father, a famous photographer, spends all his days alone with his old camera and monotonously takes the same shot seen from his window. He also gave a convincing argument to his weakness, which is the complete truth – he says that filming is more interesting this way, because the lighting changes in different parts of the day, the static shot is completely transformed, maybe his works will be recognized like Monet (who created masterpieces with this principle).
From the other characters, the foreign traveler stands out more, who from the very first frames of the film observes with a camera in hand and captures the wonderful views of the city day or night and the people walking there, and more often the residents of the house where the heroes of the film live, because he himself is a resident of the private hotel located in this house. He gets to know and befriend almost all the characters, and there is also an attempt at a love intrigue with a young woman, but to no avail, because he himself admits that he travels a lot, so he cannot spare time for serious relationships. All the stories are fragmented like pieces of a puzzle and do not fit together. The pure feeling of only 13-year-old children, who already have many problems, gives the impression that it will take on a more significant and long-lasting face, but a conversation with the girl's mother suppresses this hope, it turns out that she and the boy's father, at their age, also loved each other, but he remained abandoned. And, in general, if Romeo and Juliet had lived long, would they have been together? A rhetorical question is heard from the screen.
Only understanding the cinematic dynamics of the cameraman Goga Devdariani balances the film's chaotic structure. The combination of his compositional image style and form, the in-frame sense ennobles and overshadows the directorial irregularities. But the film is a group work, and when one component moves forward, it already breaks the structural unity. This may make the film more spectacular, but it cannot be written into the director's concept.
The director misleads us from the beginning. The film begins with a morning scene in the city square – a newly awakened, homeless man and woman tidying up. The darkened and slowed-down, extended shots used periodically at the beginning and later make you think for a moment that the director decided to add an innovative, new vision to Georgian cinema using the principles of a different film movement – Slow Cinema, like the outstanding representative of this current, the Portuguese director – Pedro Costa, whose characters are mostly representatives of the lower social class (although my parallel turned out to be completely useless and absurd). Instead, at the end of the film, the relationship between the two homeless people at the beginning of the film reminded me of how a man combs his partner's hair with such tenderness and love, while a foreign traveler observes and photographs them from afar. It showed me what the director wanted to convey for the whole hour and a half – that in this soulless, valueless world, only vulnerable people, except each other, have no one left in this vast, frozen ocean of people, that only they are able to maintain that gentle and, at the same time, strong feeling and silent expression of what is called true love.