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Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry Film Review

A woman sits on the floor leaning on a chair, with a man's face on her lap as he lies on the ground too in a still from the movie Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry

Eka Chavleishvili is mesmerising in Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, Elene Naveriani’s moving tale of female independence in a small Georgian village.

Director: Elene Naveriani
Genre: Drama
Run Time: 110′
UK Release: May 3, 2024
US Release: May 14, 2024 (VOD)
Where to watch: in UK cinemas

When Good Luck to You, Leo Grande was released in 2022, it was lauded for its portrayal of the sexual experiences of middle-aged women and their bodies. Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry is equally moving and assured in its depiction of a woman—specifically 48-year-old Etero (Eka Chavleishvili, Parade)—experimenting with sex in her older years whilst still dictating her own life and maintaining her independence.

Playful and touching, the film tells a simple story, but there is a surprising amount of power to be gleaned from its narrative. Chavleishvili is the driving heartbeat of this power; hers is an impressive central performance of steeliness and sensuality, ensuring Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry’s mildly cluttered and murky narrative never becomes too much of an issue.

Etero lives in a small Georgian village, content with her life of running a quiet shop and living alone. Her mother dying when Etero was young and her subsequent experience of living with an abusive father and brother (who are also no longer around) feed into her fiercely protected independence. She cherishes her freedom, trying to ignore the gossip of villagers and outdated traditions that dictate a woman’s expected place in Georgian society. Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry resolutely challenges such notions in a similar way to Levan Akin’s Georgian drama And Then We Danced (2019). Etero’s independence is never an issue for her, only for others.

Seemingly small in scope, Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry manages to operate on a wider scale in terms of its societal and thematic commentaries. Other women in the village raise families and housekeep for working husbands, but for Etero, these things have never appealed to her, so why would she do them? Along with her co-writer Nikoloz Mdivani, director Elene Naveriani (Wet Sand) consistently places Etero’s desires and needs at the centre of Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, rightly giving them the most importance in relation to expectations or traditions. It’s refreshing and empowering in its defiant stance.

A woman brings a box to a man in the forest and the two stand opposite each other, looking at each other, in a still from the movie Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry
Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry (New Wave Films)

That isn’t to say Etero’s journey is straightforward. After she falls in love and starts a relationship with a married man called Murman (Temiko Chichinadze, The Resting Samurai), Etero questions the route her life might be about to follow. It’s a coming-of-age film for a woman in her late 40s—she loses her virginity to Murman—and thus her journey is one of discovery and further liberation. Chavleishvili is remarkable, giving us a vibrant and glowing performance that is built upon both childlike innocence and weathered mortality. As we see her relationship with Murman grow in the film’s middle stages, Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry can become repetitive in its middle sections. It is also too restrained at times, which can cause things to plod along, although magical and surrealist touches aid the film’s playfulness. Inventive lighting and blocking are infrequent, but most welcome when used.

Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry stumbles further in its latter stages, as the narrative becomes less assured of the direction it’s heading. Some context is underexplored, such as Etero’s past familial relationships, but despite these shortcomings, Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry is an ultimately beautiful film that shines with a keen sense of freedom and humanity. There is liberation and pride in the middle-aged bodies shown here—both female and male—that is rarely seen in films. Most impressively, Etero is always the most important person and body on screen; she defines her plans and life, and with it her own happiness.

Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry will be released in UK cinemas on May 3, 2024. In the US, the film will be out on VOD from May 14.

Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry: Trailer (New Wave Films)
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