Sunday, June 28, 2020

Feminism vs tradition and the patriarchy in Mariam Khatchvani's Georgia-set drama, DEDE

Primitive, filmed in a beautiful location, and said to be based on a real-life situation taking place in 1988, as the Georgian Civil War began, DEDE, the 2017 film directed and co-written by Mariam Khatchvani, takes a number of unexpected turns, even as it purloins themes from Romeo & Juliet, the Sabine Women, and maybe every backwoods-set, honor-above-all-else, Eastern European/Eurasian movie ever made.

The film also proves an oddball mix of the modern (that stylish red dress our heroine tries so hard to get her hubby to compliment) along with the strictured and provincial (traditions that are awfully difficult to understand, let alone countenance: an engagement -- no, not ring but bullet. How sweet!).

The theme of budding feminism going up against traditional patriarchy, Georgian-style, is given quite a workout here. Ms Khatchvani, pictured at right, is deliberately, I suspect, filming in the same primitive style of the setting of her movie, as exposition couples with somewhat stilted performances and dialog, so that we always get the sense that, despite the relatively modern year, we're still in some kind of far-off, nearly ancient locale. What keeps us going during this somewhat languorous film are two things.

First, the interesting performers: George Babluani, shown above, as our heroine's first great love, a sexy, slow-burn guy who's great at staring; Natia Vibliani as Dina (below, with child), the put-upon girl at the center of all the male wrangling; and literally all the supporting performers who seem equally adept and real.

Secondly, the visuals here, thanks to the gorgeous locations, can often be breathtaking: There's one scene in which villagers carry lanterns/torches in the night on one side of the screen, even as the salmon-colored sunset hits the peaks of the mountains on the other. One question, however: Is Dede, the movie's title, somehow short for the name Dina, our main character? If not, what is its connectuon to this film?

From Corinth Films, in the Georgian language and running 97 minutes, Dede hits home video on DVD and digital streaming (via Amazon and iTunes) this coming Tuesday, June 30 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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