And Then We Danced (2019)

And Then We Danced
Director: Levan Akin
Writer: Levan Akin
Cast: Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakishvili, Giorgi Tsereteli, Kakha Gogidze, Ana Makharadze, Nino Gabisonia, Levan Gabrava, Dachi Babunashvili, Saba Abashidze, Giorgi Aladashvili, Soso Abramishvili
Seen on: 26.8.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is a dancer with a traditional dance company in Tbilisi. He has been training basically his whole life with his dance partner Mary (Ana Javakishvili), juggling the training with a job as a waiter to support his family. When a new dancer, Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) joins the company, his free-spiritedness inspires Merab – and ignites a spark in him he barely knew he was capable of.

And Then We Danced is a beautiful film that tells a lovely queer coming-of-age story in a very interesting setting. I was absolutely taken with it.

The film poster showing Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) in a traditional costume mid-dance.

I have never been to Georgia myself, nor do I know a thing about Georgian dance, so And Then We Danced offered me a glimpse into a culture that I hadn’t gotten so far and I really enjoyed that part of it. Especially the dancing that does take up a sizeable part of the film and is a tool Akin wonderfully uses to explore his characters and their relationships.

But even if the film was set in Austria, I would have still loved it, I think. It’s shot with such tenderness and care for its characters, particularly Merab who is at the center of the story. Gelbakhiani is the perfect casting choice, capturing both the pain and the joy in Merab’s growth and finding out who he is and what he wants.

Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) sleeping on Merab's (Levan Gelbakhiani) shoulder on the bus.

Some things are not all that new to films of its kind, but it’s not important because they work on an emotional level, with particular stand-out moments being Merab’s final dance, the sweet moment where he bonds with his brother and practically any time that Merab gets his goofy, “I’m so in love” smile.

All of this makes And Then We Danced a beauitful addition to the queer cinema canon, as well as just film itself, queer or not. I was utterly captivated by it and would watch it again in a heartbeat.

Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) and Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) after training together.

Summarizing: Beautiful.

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