Review: A Room of My Own
by Marta Bałaga
- Ioseb “Soso” Bliadze’s film proves that the biggest drama always happens in the smallest of places
Georgian director Ioseb “Soso” Bliadze sure works fast, returning to Karlovy Vary (this time in the Crystal Globe Competition) just one year after Otar’s Death [+see also:
interview: Ioseb 'Soso' Bliadze
film profile]. But his new film, A Room of My Own [+see also:
interview: Ioseb “Soso” Bliadze and Ta…
film profile], although microscopic in scale, doesn’t really feel hurried. It’s a gentle take on loneliness, abuse, attraction and a society that still favours a man’s word over that of a woman. Which is every society, really.
Tina (Taki Mumladze) seems shy and withdrawn, but she is determined to change her life. She has never had a job, never stayed on her own, but at this point, all she needs is a roommate. We’re in the midst of the pandemic, so Megi (Mariam Khundadze) can’t be too picky, even though Tina claims to need a place just for a minute. Apparently, her boyfriend is already waiting to take her to her brand-new home. But she can’t help but be intrigued by Megi, effortlessly independent, chain-smoking and answering to no one.
Single White Female immediately comes to mind – as does its creative violence featuring stilettos – but it’s not that kind of story. Unlike so many directors turning to the female perspective because it’s half-expected these days, Bliadze enlists the help of Mumladze, playing Tina and co-writing the script. He tells this story with her, in a way. It’s important because when the film takes a turn into more sexual territory, it’s both cringeworthy and understandable. After all, Tina is now actively searching.
There are many topics to handle here, most of them heavy, but all of these issues are mentioned as if in passing – even the biggest discovery, of what exactly drove Tina to finally pack her small bags and go, leaving her marriage and family behind, is told quietly. With an awkward smile and maybe a sense of embarrassment, because when you keep hearing that everything is always your fault, you start believing it, too.
The problem is that she keeps on focusing on other people and other bodies, not on herself – it’s probably just easier this way. Whenever she kisses or embraces somebody, she does so in a desperate, hungry way. But at this point, closeness, or even pleasure, simply won’t do. She needs to do the actual work first: build a life of her own, from the start, just like Virginia Woolf said. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Or if she is merely to exist, without worrying that if you do something “wrong” one day, someone will just take it away.
Shot during the pandemic, Bliadze’s film doesn’t really need that background at all, although stories of domestic-abuse victims held hostage in their own homes during lockdown loom over the whole thing. There are whispers of politics, and those never-ending boozy parties as well, but whenever Mumladze and Khundadze share the screen (apparently, they are friends in real life), that’s when things come to life. It’s a surprisingly affecting, well-directed film. Now bring on the awards.
A Room of My Own was produced by Maisis Peri (Georgia) and Color of May (Germany).
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