Kote Chabakauri's short student film "Toy Horse" (2019) has three characters: Giorgi (Tedo Bekauri), Mother (Nino Kvitatiani) and Keto (Keti Chkhartishvili). The director describes one part of the main character, Giorgi’s life, which may be considered as a turning point in the routine of this character.
At a glance, Giorgi is not a remarkable person. He goes to work, to the carpentry every morning, returns home in the evening, and so on, although there is one big responsibility in his life - his sick mother. The film does not show what the main character does in his free time or whether he has any free time at all, but with the plot that the director offers to the audience, only exhausting monotony is presented and Giorgi seems to obey it. It is not clear in the movie whether he is fighting something or looking for something new. However, the news itself comes to him, which he welcomes with joy.
Speaking about Giorgi's character, first of all, his calmness and staidness should be mentioned. He is quiet, modest and humble. It is almost impossible to find a negative feature of this movie hero, at least the director does not show it. Tedo Bekauri played the role quite convincingly and sincerely. In many Georgian films, whether it is a work shot by a professional, amateur or student, the level of film acting remains one of the main problems. It is true that Tedo did not have an emotionally difficult role to play, but his actions and, most importantly, his speech are both natural.
Mother is the closest person in Giorgi's life (it is shown not only by the mood of the film and Giorgi's reserved nature but by the birthday episode, where only mother and son are present). The mother is a sick woman who tries not to burden her son and sells animals carved by Giorgi and painted by herself. She gives a finishing touch to Giorgi’s work for fun, to pass the time, to give herself some purpose.
Nino Kvitatiani's character lacks believability in some moments. For example, during the very first line: "Mm... it's delicious!" or in the birthday scene. In contrast, she speaks naturally in the scene with the client coming home and the effect of fakeness disappears.
It seems that in the case of Keti Chkhartishvili's hero, there were relatively fewer tasks to perform. The scenes in which she appears are mostly directed with the right emotion, although the scene in which she arrives at the carpentry, where she first appears, is an exception. This episode itself is artificially played by the actors, which is more apparent in speech and intonation than in their behavior and actions.
The characters of the film are quite superficially created images. They are like standard heroes with no negative traits. Actually, their other side is not visible, they are all people seen only from one side. Superficial attitude is manifested not only in relation to the characters, but also in the conceptual direction. How significant and outstanding this work is in terms of content is a separate topic. Probably, the director did not investigate this matter deeply.
In the story told in the film, neutrality is maintained between the portrayer and the portrayed, that is, there is no attitude or evaluation on the part of the director towards what he is describing, and perhaps this was his goal. Additionally, it is impossible to determine the genre of this work because there is no specific sign (or signs) to find it. A drama is often called a film when one wants to define its genre, although it does not show the characteristic features of a drama, for example, a sharp conflict, or two opposing sides, etc.
Kote Chabakauri tries not to drag out the episodes. He clearly does not want to overload the work with unnecessary and useless moments, to drop the pace and make the narrative uninteresting, although there are still some small passages that look unnatural in certain scenes. Basically, these are scenes at the workplace when Giorgi's employees are active. For example, the boss says to the newly-arrived main character - "Well, good luck, Giorgi!" and pats him on the shoulder, or the dialogue of those sitting down to eat. Perhaps such an unnatural mood stems from their own roles, and if they performed it naturally, then these scenes would not have fallen out of one whole.
The work of the cameraman, Aleksandre Sajashvili is worthy of special mention. The rhythm of his movement properly follows the rhythm of the narrative. He seems to have put a lot of work into making the technical side of the film neat and appealing, handling dark tones, confined space and artificial lighting as well as working with natural lighting, close-ups and long shots.
Kote Chabakauri, as a novice filmmaker, paid more attention to the technical side of the film than to telling an original adventure. Hopefully, he will improve this in the future.
BA student of film studies