It is natural that when the primary source of the film is literature and new and very popular at the same time, one can't avoid comparisons, and I can say from the very beginning that in this comparison, the film "Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry" (2023) by Elene Naveriani is not a loser.

To be honest, I am not a huge admirer of Tamta Melashvili's novel. Many of the things in it seemed to me too constructed, illustrating current trends and fashionable opinions. However, when I learned about the plan to screen it, the first reaction was a pleasant expectation – the work clearly had the potential to be adapted to the screen.

The film met up to my expectations. The process of transforming a literary text into a screen text is always associated with risk, especially when a text is written in the first person and had an inner monologue loaded with personal feelings. In the film, some of the internal monologues were replaced by imaginary scenes; in the novel, to say the least, the harshly scattered feminist messages were softened by the feelings captured on the actress's face; the authors entrusted the feelings and emotions of the inner monologue to the actress: her appearance, facial expressions, gestures, body plasticity – applauses are directed to the scriptwriters (Nikoloz Mdivani, Tamta Melashvili, Elene Naveriani) and, of course, to the director. There are losses, although it can be said in another way – the character has, to some extent, changed her face.

More applauses are directed to Elene Naveriani for choosing Eka Chavleishvili for the main role. Eka Chavleishvili's Etero (the role not performed or embodied, but just brought to life) is the main component of the film's success, and she quite rightly earned prizes on the international stage in the nominations of the best actress (at Sarajevo International Film Festival, Cottbus Eastern European International Film Festival) and appeared among European Film Academy Award nominees.

In the film, Eka Chavleishvili's Etero is a free, strong woman who is careful about her hard-earned freedom only years later. However, she is neither so free nor so strong that she can't consider the village and neighbors’ views on the honest name of a woman. We can think that the readiness to be involved into an open conflict has not yet matured in her personality, or simply, it might not be worth sacrificing her independence for the sake of expressing her personal views.

The bitter experience of life taught Etero to value freedom. The woman who grew up without a mother, spent her youth and perhaps childhood as well to caring for her brother and father – cleaning, washing, feeding. As it is clear from the neighbor's words, it might be the reason why they did not let anyone come closer to her, or love and marry.

The stories of Etero's youth is revealed from the neighbors' remarks, not by her own, as it is in the novel. And that's good, but the problem of direction, as in the previous film by the same filmmaker, is also present here. As with "Wet Sand," here too, he director is unable to "tame" the secondary characters and, respectively, the informative phrases. Etero's neighbors are more or less functional figures who are designed to introduce us to the plot, create an atmosphere of rural moods, etc., but they do not come to life as characters. The scenes with their participation more often look unconvincing and artificial.

On the other hand, there is not a single note of fakeness in Eka Chavleishvili's Etero. She is a woman standing firmly on the ground and impervious to the small bites of her neighbors and friends; unlike them and contrary to the accepted rule, she is neither married nor "burdened” by her children. After the death of her brother and father, Etero stays alone but free from binding obligations. She has opened a small shop near her residence and is not worried about material problems. She takes care of her freedom, appreciates it, tastes it like her favorite delicious blackberry jam with tea. She does not skimp on other small pleasures either. For example, once every two weeks go for a walk in the district center and have cake at a cafe. Etero manages to save a little bit of money with her business and plans to arrange a peaceful and happy old age with her savings. In this happy future, there is no room for anyone, but only for herself and her statement "I will do whatever I want."

But as the 48-year-old Etero looks death into the eyes, and the fear of death awakens "unused" (maybe postponed?) feelings in her. A secret romance awakes between Etero and Murman, the shop's distributor. We cannot fully understand whether this feeling is for a specific person or if this choice was made by chance. In the film, the statement: "I love you, of course, I do" is repeated several times, although with a surprised intonation, to demonstrate this weird and new feeling to herself.

As for Murman (Temiko Chichinadze), he really loves her. He is a far more romantic person. Already the grandpa of two grandchildren, he is fascinated by an unexpected romance like a young man, he is shy, he writes poems, he feels separation; and he is impatiently waiting to meet again. Unlike him, Etero meets both joy and disappointment with restraint. Moreover, she immediately, without thinking, rejects Murman's offer to join him to Turkey, to be with her "loved one"; in exchange, she is offered to take care for or clean someone else's house – loss of independence.

Is it giving up of freedom and independence or is it selfishness? The audience is free to choose.

However, Etero's romance does not end there, she faces a new challenge – instead of the expected cancer, there is some incredible wonderful news: she is pregnant.

The finale is open, but at the same time clear: Eka Chavleishvili's Etero cries for the first time on the screen. Many things can be read in these tears, included what the director meant, what the actress's aura added, and how the audience’s life experience, views, and sympathy enriched it. For me, it's a release of long-held emotions, a shedding of the shackles that kept Etero from being weak in her strength, an opportunity to realize that the paradise of happy old age she had pictured in her imagination was not at all like that; that it was only peace, but not happiness, which she seemed to forbid herself (or others forbidding her); that it was a personal decision, but only from possible options in a given environment.

Manana Lekborashvili

Leave a Comment

თქვენი ელფოსტის მისამართი გამოქვეყნებული არ იყო. აუცილებელი ველები მონიშნულია *