Review: ‘Ori’

An earnest, abstruse and under-realized drama set in Georgia during the aftermath of the South Ossetia War.

An earnest, abstruse and under-realized drama set in Georgia during the aftermath of the South Ossetia War, “Ori” proves unable to tackle its potentially compelling material in any but the most abstract terms. Having made the journey to shoot a docu on the war, debuting helmer Miguel Angel Jimenez Colmenar found the conflict was effectively over, and was forced to improvise. And though the cast and tech aspects are solid, the script appears hastily assembled indeed. A way with mood and image and some powerful but disembodied ideas could stir some fest interest for this pioneering Spain-Georgia co-production.

Pic tells the stories of two young people alienated in different ways by the war. Living in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, pale, uncertain Nino (Kathuna Shurgaia) is engaged to taxi driver Giorgi (Giorgi Goguazde). Giorgi gets an unheard-of $100 tip from an American photographer and asks Nino to exchange it, but she is robbed. Much time is spent with Nino, who wanders uncertainly around the city’s bombed-out wastelands, understandably insecure about the future.

Meanwhile, out in the Caucasian mountains — to which Gorka Gomez Andreu’s lensing does full justice — accordion player Tazo (Tazo Terunashvili) has left his burned-down house to seek refuge with his drunken uncle Beqa (Beqa Gautarazde, compelling). (Among other eccentricities, Beqa keeps a tied-up bear in his yard.)

Pic shuttles between the two stories without directly connecting them or taking either anywhere in particular: Nino, always glum, goes for presumably symbolic swims, while Tazo and Beqa find an undetonated bomb.

If the strands are united by anything, it’s by the gloomy prospects for its young protagonists, victims of a society run by warmongering politicos. Pic is more memorable for its dark mood-making than for its action: The script is strangely uncommunicative about background, supplying little of the context most auds would need to ground the characters. The fact that they rarely talk doesn’t help.

Title translates as “two” in Georgian.




A Kinoskopic (Spain)/Cinetech (Georgia) production. (International sales: Kinoskopic, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.) Produced by Luis de Oza, Koldo Zuazua, Zurab Masgalashvili, Irakli Bagaturia. Directed by Miguel Angel Jimenez Colmenar. Screenplay, Luis Moya Redrado.


Camera (color), Gorka Gomez Andreu; editor, Imanol Gomez de Segura; music, Miguel Angel Jimenez Arnaiz; sound (Dolby Digital), Iosu Gonzalez. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi New Directors), Sept. 24, 2009. Running time: 85 MIN.


Kathuna Shurgaia, Beqa Gautarazde, Giorgi Goguazde, Tazo Terunashvili, Lili Burbutashvili. (Georgian dialogue)
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