What is it about small cinematic stories that feel so gargantuan in their emotions and ideas? Why is a simple premise occasionally more effective than all the budget and scope in the world? Tamar Shavgulidze’s second feature Comets may not have an answer to either of these questions, but it is one hell of an occurrence of a smaller and pointed cinema.
Roughly three decades after being separated, quinquagenarian’s Nana (Ketevan Gegeshidze) and Irina (Nino Kasradze) have built separate lives for themselves. Irina is a successful business woman with multiple restaurants, while Nana is mother and grandmother, with a daughter she has affectionately named Irina (Ekaterine Kalatozishvili). When the elder Irina visits Nana for the first time in decades, the two must reconcile with memories and the past things left unsaid.
Shavgulidze takes an interesting stylistic approach to Comets. The film consists almost exclusively of a single conversation between two former lovers, that is inter-spliced with flashbacks. Most shots are long takes, with minimal edits. The film largely succeeds on the strength of its writing, frequently poignant and well-attuned to the present realities; and also, through the brilliant performances from the two leads. Both Gegeshidze and Kasradze offer some of the finest acting of the year.
Shavgulidze’s film is painfully romantic, both in its determination to explore broad ideas of unconditional love, and in its recognition that the more circumstances change the more they stay the same. This is a beautiful film that I found captivating and heartbreaking.