'Moira': San Sebastian Review
Paata Inauri stars in Levan Tutberidze's family-based drama, Georgia´s submission for the 2016 Foreign Language Oscar.
Storm-clouds of destiny hang oppressively low over Moira, the lukewarm latest feature by Georgian veteran Levan Tutberidze. A sombre tale of a fractured Georgian family and their eponymous fishing-boat, it benefits from its unusual setting on the shores of the Black Sea and a strong central performance by Paata Inauri but is consistently weighed down by a two-dimensional, formulaic screenplay.
Selected as Georgia's Foreign Language Oscar entry shortly before bowing in competition at San Sebastian, it left the Spanish festival empty-handed and looks set to become filler-fare for the circuit's less-discerning festivals. Chief selling-point is the committed work by swarthily bearded Inauri as thirtyish Mamuka, who in the first moments is seen emerging from prison after a five-year stretch.
Turns out that Mamuka basically took a fall on behalf of local gangsters, and the ex-jailbird is now determined to fly a straight a path as possible on the outside. There are problems aplenty at home, however: his mother (Ketevan Tskhakaia) works as a singer in far-off Greece (odd to find a current picture where a character heads to that particular country in search of financial advantage); his father (Zaza Magalashvili) is wheelchair-bound as a result of a stroke; his younger brother Shota (Giorgi Khurtsilava) plans to marry his sweetheart Tina (Ani Bebia) but his straitened circumstances give his prospective in-laws pause.
An enterprising duo, Mamuka and Shota seize a rare opportunity to purchase fishing-trawler, which Mamuka renames the 'Moira' after an implacable Greek deity responsible for overseeing men's fates. "It's not going to make you rich!" warns the previous owner, but the brothers do strike it lucky when they catch a prized, lucrative (but decidedly fake-looking) sturgeon. The return of their mother also raises hopes, but it isn't long before the temptations of criminality - to which Shota quickly succumbs - troubles the waters, with tragic consequences...
Juggling genre tropes and hard-knock realism in uninspired, sometimes awkward fashion, Tutberidze — whose credits date back to the USSR era — is content to plod through the motions here. Gorka Gomez Andreu's widescreen cinematography works within a narrow palette of grays and hazy blues; Nuri Abashidz 's score underlines the conventional aspects of proceedings, while the screenplay concentrates too intently on Mamuka and Shota, to the expense of the secondary characters.
Bebia's Tina gets especially short shrift, the romance between the young lovebirds ranking high among the most glumly mechanical in recent cinema history. This is problematic indeed, given the way the narrative hinges on Shota's aspirations and dreams of escape, all the way up to the all-too-predictably downbeat finale.
Production company: Cinetech
Cast: Paata Inauri, Giorgi Khurtsilava, Zaza Magalashvili, Ketevan Tskhakaia, Jano Izoria, Ani Bebia
Director: Levan Tutberidze
Screenwriters: Giorgi Kobalia, Davit Pirtskhalava, Levan Tutberidze
Producer: Nikoloz Abramashvili
Cinematographer: Gorka Gomez Andreu
Costume designer: Ana Kalatozishvili
Editors: Levan Kukhashvili, Grigol Palavandishvili, Levan Tutberidze
Composer: Nukri Abashidze
Sales: Cinetech, Tbilisi, Georgia
No Rating, 95 minutes