Some things are better left unsaid

Since Otar Left was a film I found touching and heartfelt, a reminder of human dignity, and the pull between self-interest and that of others.

The setup is simple. In an apartment in former Soviet Georgia lives Eka, her daughter Marina, and her granddaughter Ada. Eka's son Otar, a doctor, has been living in Paris for some time without proper paperwork, and making due with construction work, sending back what money he can. Eka idolizes him, Marina is resentful, and Ada is stuck in the middle.

When word of Otar's sudden death reaches Marina and Ada, what are they to do? Eka is up in years, and the biggest source of joy for her comes from Otar's letters.

The film is akin to a dramatic version of the comedy Good Bye, Lenin, in terms of holding onto one version of reality for someone else's sake. That both come from the former Soviet bloc is more than just interesting. It seems to reflect a need to dissect the conflict between idealism and reality both before and after Soviet domination. Probably such contradictions could be found anywhere, but isn't it going to be felt so much more when even the language of reality has been held in a tight fist for so long?

The characters are allowed to tell the story. Simple visuals and simple dialog push it along, but leave the emotional heart raw and available to us. While we know where things are going, we really don't know where they're going to end up. Even though the ending wraps things up nicely, it happens organically, neither forced nor overly sentimental. All in all, a joy.

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