In the history of Georgian cinema, the characteristics of the vision constantly changed in the footsteps of poetic and metaphorical artistic thinking, as well as what today is called modernity perceived as facts and events, which is always accompanied by an existential crisis caused by changes or wars and pandemics.
Against this background, art, from time to time, addresses a dialogue with itself, which can be expressed in a complete prose form. In Giorgi Ovashvili's film, "Beautiful Helen" (2022), such prosaic type of imaginative-realistic signs was reflected.
The drama of young Helen and the experienced director, Gabriel’s existential quest is presented as one of the most difficult dialogues with oneself, difficult and dangerous in art, in particular in cinema, since several layers of this not-so-bright adventure hardly include those necessary minimum of dynamics, tempo-rhythm that would create a feeling of participation in the audience. However, this function is also under question - to what extent the extensive textual prose material allows the possibility of this participation, and secondly - how much the director wanted this feeling to exist at all.
In itself, the prosaic non-dynamic narrative style chosen by Giorgi Ovashvili is a thoughtful form, both dramaturgically and compositionally, in the direction of visual material, where the mood created by fog and harsh landscapes of primeval nature is directly compatible with what is created by spiritual emptiness and the desire for knowledge. Dimitri Khvtisiashvili's hero, film director Gabriel - a character whose slightly infantile spiritual "I", unfortunately, does not fully appear to be just that - seems to be a logical continuation of this landscape, or a half-dusted workroom, the last, disordered, creative person from the suspended world, who does not see the future, instead, he feels what he experiences, he does not say to the end, he quotes endlessly... It is possible that this tone seems quite logical to Gabriel's character, but still, against the background of the existential microcosm, his face is endlessly visible, just like beautiful Helen (Natia Chikviladze) in the process of expressing her own maximalism and righteous stubbornness.
This space seems to have lost its support - newly made friends, creative partners, with the feeling of a strange "bond" start a journey and find themselves on the other side of suspended time or their own inner "selves," where the film producer and the film director lose their past, have no future and, passing through other people's parallels, try to perceive themselves.
In the half-lit bedroom, converted into a hotel, in front of the mirror, Gabriel becomes like an unintentional marionette figure which increases the area of his hysteria: jumping, waving his hands, as if he is freeing himself, as the modern world does, and often with tragic results. This world is small-closed in the small room, within the beautiful foggy landscape, in the night light, in the snowy open space and, finally, in the conditional frame of the screen. This frame might be most important, which can be turned into a metaphor for the closure of the world in this film, although it lacks more extensive and natural features of artistic generalization, for example, the main characters’ sharpness of the behavioral motivation or the maximum naturalness of their uncomfortable feelings – that are characteristic for Darejan Kharshiladze’s and Salome Pagava's characters – to the hotel owner Helen and the director's wife, who has long perceived the relationship with reality in a truly tragic prism of personal discomfort. It is for this reason that a variety of aggressive-dramatic feelings of this character, Gabriel's wife, appear on the screen, one after another, as well as the grotesqueness of the elder Helen and the mysterious tragic feeling that is embedded in one small glimpse: "My spouse was also called Gabriel, Gabo... "... This is not a parallel, but another, unknown image of existential crisis - always tragic and full of unrecognizable fatalism.
Important is the contrast of the motionless, remarkably articulate landscapes of the main action space of the film, as it were, with the questions and answers of the ignorant children of this world, who imagine their own "way" as a set of actions framed in a presumable framework, and not as an artistic motif that comes out of the two main characters' dissonant and sometimes temporary sense of reality. For example, Helen’s meeting with her friends in a space where the space speaks more about the mood or her dialogue with her girlfriend in a cafe.
The couple, who take a short trip to find filming locations, in verbal metaphorical hints and phrases (a story read by Gabriel), are already trying to create their own, closed frame, though unintelligibly - at least, this is the strange feeling of their attempt to leave themselves and, like cave dwellers of time immemorial, start a strange immobility.
A person is unable to be a prisoner of a crisis frame for a long time - whatever it might be, firm, conditional, etc. Therefore, the dramaturgical idea of the film director is, in itself, a conditional frame, which is mostly interesting on the example of two characters - Gabriel's wife and the hotel owner, and is less dynamic in the background of the two main characters’ acting with accumulated energy.
No one knows beforehand how difficult it will be to further understand the beginning of the 2020s in art, cinema, afterwards, a few years later, although today the perception of this event looks different - as an opportunity to stay face to face with oneself and the cruel "I"…
Giorgi Ovashvili used this very opportunity with its complex risks and the limited space of artistic generalization - the lost, scattered, chaotic agitation of people left alone with their own existential perception is as much a mirage as the well-being brought by the new reality that has come to the world today. It simply does not exist, and the characters of "Beautiful Helen" experience this in advance.
PHD in Art Criticism (Film Studies),