Review: ‘The Foolish Pomegranate Tree’

More a Georgian film than a Hungarian one, this poetic, sepia-toned item makes superlative use of the crumbling streets and buildings of the old quarter of Tbilisi as a backdrop to a strange, plotless mood piece featuring eccentric characters. The second film Peter Meszaros has made on this theme (after "The House of Niko, the Ladies and the Angel-Faced Doll" in 1996), pic could be of interest to specialist fests seeking items from the Caucasus, but otherwise is simply too mysterious and frustrating to find audiences.

More a Georgian film than a Hungarian one, this poetic, sepia-toned item makes superlative use of the crumbling streets and buildings of the old quarter of Tbilisi as a backdrop to a strange, plotless mood piece featuring eccentric characters. The second film Peter Meszaros has made on this theme (after “The House of Niko, the Ladies and the Angel-Faced Doll” in 1996), pic could be of interest to specialist fests seeking items from the Caucasus, but otherwise is simply too mysterious and frustrating to find audiences.

“The Foolish Pomegranate Tree” takes place about a hundred years ago and is set largely in the courtyard and veranda of what appears to be a brothel; languorously decorative women drift about while a group of men, including an aged general, a philosopher and an astronomer, gab about nothing much. Gangly artist Niko and his friend Vano, a diminutive, dapper ladies’ man, bicker and even swap identities at one point. Director Meszaros appears as a Hungarian photographer who visits the area. Perhaps only those steeped in Georgian culture will be enthralled by this beautiful but remote and languid effort.

The Foolish Pomegranate Tree

(HUNGARY-GEORGIA)

Production

A Budapest Filmstudio/Kvali Film co-production, in association with Grusia Film, BBSA, MMK, NKA, ORTT. Produced by Ferenc Kardos, Laszlo Kantor, Gela Kandelaki. Directed, written by Peter Meszaros. Camera (B&W), Gyorgy Beridze; editor, Cisana Cihiseli; music, Zurab Nadaresvilli; production designer, Mariam Kandelaki. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 6, 2000. Original title: A bolond granatalmafa. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

With: Slava Gasparov, Vahtang Komahidze, Magda Anikasvili, Peter Meszaros.

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