In Bloom review – teenage girls as prisoners of war

The effects of Georgia's conflict with Russia find turbulent expression in girls trying to grow up in a dangerous world

The business of Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross's very assured drama is insecurity: it charts some stormy teenage rites of passage amid the chaos of the Georgian civil war. While dutiful Eka (Lika Babluani) struggles to process her alcoholic father's absence, her coltish companion Natia (Mariam Bokeria) toys with a handgun gifted by a passing beau as a means of fending off bullies – aggression simply being the done thing in these parts. Read whatever symbolism you like into that weapon, but it's merely the centrepiece of a consistently fractious universe, as the directors make a point of keeping the wider conflict off-screen: both in class and out on the breadlines, other, more localised skirmishes are never too far away. The film finds the subtle tells that suggest these free-roaming girls might themselves have become prisoners of war, while enveloping its heroines in a persuasive turbulence: unpredictable, never forced, and forever compelling.

Contributor

Mike McCahill

The GuardianTramp

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