In 1992, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria) are two friends on the cusp of adulthood. As they learn more about themselves, men and the world around them, that world is as chaotic as their journey to leave childhood behind.
Based on, and inspired by writer/director Nana Ekvtimishvili’s own experiences growing up, In Bloom is a slow moving but engaging film, which examines the nature of adolescence, and the nature of a country thrown into chaos by war and poverty.
Throughout the film, the power shifts back and forth between Babluani and Bokeria. The latter seems the older of the two girls – although both are just 14 years old – as she is the one attracting attention from boys, and seems at first to have a deeper understanding of the world she lives in. It is only when she is given a gun as a present from a suitor, that the audience are shown this girl’s immaturity. Babluani plays Eka as are more careful character, one who carefully considers herself and the actions of others. There is a terrible loss in her family, and although the edges of this hole are filled with grief, she still has a more stable and caring home life than her friend, who seems to spend all of her time diffusing arguments or ignoring them.
It is often hard to tell what kind of message In Bloom is trying to convey, or whether there is a message at all to the film, which often feels as though it is merely observing a period of time, rather than telling a story. As well as this, the film does rely on a little knowledge of Georgia and the historical struggles it went through, as well as the customs of the time period, such as kidnapping young women to force them into marriage. That said though, when everything comes together, Nana Ekvtimishvili’s film is a powerful and engaging one, with the threat of violence hanging over almost every scene.
In Bloom is often a challenging watch, but it is also a rewarding examination of a microcosm of life in Georgia for young women. The film is slow moving and often seems to hop from place to place with no real sense of direction, but once everything comes together, and the characters reveal themselves and their strengths, In Bloom is a worthwhile piece of work.