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CentEast Student Report: The Rainbowmaker

Mariana Hristova for CentEast 2009-10-21
The Georgian directress Nana Dzhordzhadze's enchanting cinema has been for long time an intimate guide for foreigners to her beloved homeland.

Since her breakthrough with Robinsonada or My English Grandfather (Caméra d'Or at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival) about a British engineer who starts a passionate affair with the local beauty Anna while constructing a telegraph line through Georgia, her films' regular leitmotif consists of suddenly dropped off into the Georgian countryside outlanders (or at least urban people) and their weird incidents within regional culture and manners. Although soon afterwards Dzhordzhadze moved to France, she continued popularizing Georgian lifestyle (together with her partner and constant scriptwriter Irakli Kvirikadze) creating its exotic image of idyll atmosphere and bittersweet nostalgia. Her next worldwide acknowledged works follow the same direction - A Chef in Love, nominated in 1996 for foreign language Oscar is about a French master cook and bon vivant (Pierre Richard) who falls in love with a Georgian princess, and the Avignon Film Festival winner and European Film Academy nominated 27 Missing Kisses from 2000 catches delicately the trembling excitement of a red haired teen who falls in love with a mature man during her countryside summer holiday. Since then Dzhordzhadze has been silent and here comes her new magical story about love, romantic madness and Georgian spirit.

The Rainbowmaker (a generous coproduction between France, Italy, Germany, Georgia, Russia) is a melodrama and could be defined as a carnival fairy tale where absurd vortices. As the directress' previous films, the action takes place in a small village, but there are station, and a restaurant inside, where serves the beautiful waitress Elena (Anna Antonovich, a curly red haired actress again as Dzhordzhadze herself). Her husband, the local meteorologist Dato (Merab Ninidze), is in prison on a misunderstanding and his father (Ramaz Chkhikvadze) takes care of their sweet little boy and girl having meanwhile late night existential conversations with Death (Nino Kirtadze). Elena just throws herself in a romance with a macho circus artist who is supposed to take her away from this boring province, and her husband returnes. But only to realize that no one loves him anymore, even his children are not respectful because the grandfather presented him as a giant-hero, so now they can not accept this father, "weak as a worm". Seduced and abandoned, he doesn't have better opportunities than to drink all the time and share a hammok with a strange pilot (Chulpan Khamatova) under the moonlight. But one day a lightning pierces Dato's body and he suddenly acquires wondrous power to change the climate. Here's how starts snowing in the middle of the summer and Dato manages to regain his family leading the movie to its expected happy end.

Weather element is not new in Nana Dzhordzhadze's cinema - it was also in 27 Missing Kisses where everything seemed like happens due to the summer mood. The Rainbowmaker is also mystic and picturesque as her previous works but overexposed in any sense: the magical elements are inorganically encrusted within the reality; "typical" Georgian atmosphere turns into a kitschy exotics for the uninitiated audience; the characters act due to the cliché stereotypes around their national identity, and even Dzhordzhadze's style and trademarks on the screen turn themselves into some automatic tags trying to be widely accepted and unique at the same time. The characters are basicly defined, even categorized. Dano is the unlucky good-hearted loser who finally deserves his beloved woman. Elena is the silly and easy beauty (allowed to be silly because she's beauty) who wants a better life. Chulpan Khamatova as the nutty pilot plays the brave independent woman, tortured by loneliness. The circus artist is just the bad guy; the grandfather is simply the wise man; and even Death has Georgian manners drinking vodka and having casual sex with the nearest available man. This "proper" film structure is a great precondition for a box office successful romantic comedy, if it was not Dzhordzhadze's obvious pretension she has created an original piece of art house cinema, inspired by her own national roots. After the screening you are leaving the cinema hall chased by the feeling you have been shopping into a souvenier shop with Georgian stuff, where everything was cheaply and quickly made up in China.

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