A prison is a place where a person’s word has no meaning. Everything is in the hands of only one person, the warden, and it is he who controls what will happen inside the walls. The weak rarely survive, the strong become watchers of the prison and are subject to the warden throughout their stay.

Freedom ends at the prison door. The bars surround a person like a snake and suffocate him until he takes his last breath. Everything has its own rules. Outside the walls, it can sometimes be violated, but inside them, each transgression has dire consequences.

Uta Beria's film “Negative Numbers” (2019) portrays prison life and repeats stories based on reality. It conveys the difficult life of the juvenile boys' colony to the audience. The film seems to be influenced by Miloš Forman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975). The prison is like a psychiatric clinic, with only one notable difference – in the clinic, people are given medicines, and in the prison, they give bad food. Dachi seems to relate to Bill's character – both are weak and both die in the middle of the film. Mate leaves the association of a chief. Like him, he is silent and does not like to talk. And who is McMurphy then? Probably Nick, who knows.

The phrase "Billy is dead" sounded exactly like the story of Dachi’s hanging in this film. As if his death played a turning role in the prisoners’ life. The next day dawned differently and almost everyone regretted their actions. Nika is among them. He blames himself for what happened. If he had not believed his brother and defended the weak, the result would have been different.

The jail is a swamp, and that's probably why the movie is called "Negative Numbers." Prisoners leave their identities at the door and become insignificant beings when they enter. It is as if they are considered the scum of society, and the rugby coach tries to take them out of the swamp at least for a while with the help of sports but the swamp tries to bring each of them back. The boys who went outside return to the prison several times, but the light is still faintly visible in the chaos. The prisoners have a goal, they have to win the game and then play the first match outside with the fans present. This goal is their ticket to survival and a day out of jail.

The beginning of the movie seems to have been cut off. It is not clear who was caught and why. The story lacks an introduction and the narration starts directly from the prison footage. All this leaves the viewer without information and creates a feeling of failure. No one knows why each of them got there and it takes away the feeling of sympathy. The audience does not know whether they should pity the prisoner or not.

Nika tries to survive. The boy waited, waited and he got fed up. He does not want to live like his brother, but his brother does not let him rest with his street life, he forces to start a riot. It is interesting how Nika's life will develop after prison and whether he will escape his brother's clutches. The question arises, is a person whose family member gets involved in the underworld, doomed to a bad life forever? Why can't Nika live like a normal person and someone even make him breakfast in the morning or love him? It is interesting where he is and why he didn't come to see Nika at least once. Dachi's death is the last straw for the boy. This is a turning point in his life. The push he needed, the reason why he changed his mind to riot. Everyone said that he is in prison instead of his brother, maybe it was so but the prison saved him from the world of thieves. The boy understood what his life should be. He realized that it was not too late for him to love someone other than Natia and be happy with her.

In the film, several issues are raised together and the narrative does not follow any of them to the end. It leaves the impression of a documentary film, not a fiction film, and it is not clear why the director did not film a story so close to reality as a documentary.

When does the dream end and the difficult road start that every prisoner must go through to be saved? Probably when the riot starts, the action when no one starts to distinguish who started the riot. Why did the convoy start imitating the riot? He wanted to be promoted and become a commander himself. They say that the prison is collapsing from the inside, and that's exactly what happened to the warden and Nika. When the boy established a good relationship with the prisoners, they decided to get rid of him. No one needed a prison situation.

The prison is a refuge for some people, no one is waiting outside, and therefore every task is worth doing.

The story has several main characters and it is difficult to guess what the director's main point is. What did he want to show? That the prison is bad and the colony of juvenile boys is even worse? Everyone knows this. The fact that the weak die early there and suicides don't get to heaven? This is not news either.

The film has no end. It would have been better if it ended with the match. After disconnecting the shot, along with the feeling of failure, many questions arise. For example, why should a person waste almost two hours watching it? Especially since there seems to be nothing new in it. It is also not visible whether the prisoners have reached their goal or won a ticket to leave the prison. If the film had to end like this, what was the point of starting at all? Why did the coach change their lives if no one was supposed to know what really happened? Do negative numbers turn positive? Do the boys have a chance at a better life and escape prison forever? It seems that the film leads the viewer to the void in the background of these unanswered questions.

Barbare Kalaijishvili

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