Visually arresting and formally impressive, hourlong docu “Bakhmaro” tracks the decline of a South Caucasus restaurant with quiet eloquence. Eponymous neat-as-a-pin eatery in the remote west Georgian town of Chokhatauri, unfailingly open for business but alarmingly deserted save for its weary skeleton staff, serves as a deliberately unsubtle yet astutely precise metaphor for economic doldrums, an ineffective political process and the pitfalls of interior decorating. Pic is a pungent fest and TV calling card for helmer-lenser Salome Jashi.
Among the neatly set tables beneath iridescent green and red tiled walls, owner Irakli Gogelia and wait staff Nana Berdzenishvili and Nora Megrelishvili patiently await commerce of any kind. In truth, Megrelishvili’s a bit impatient, berating her boss for not doing more to lure customers. Meanwhile, election campaign posters and TV promos promise “time for change,” though the one pol who does show can’t be bothered to actually eat. Jashi’s stationary camera is as firmly planted on Georgian soil as her tongue is in cheek, yet despite the pessimism inherent in this specific predicament, pic’s unblinking look at the meticulously tidy remnant of a place passed by is dignified and, ultimately, universal.