What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (2021)

The emerging Georgian filmmaker’s second feature is an entrancing anti-romanticisation of the romance tale, recalling the artful whimsy and playful storytelling of Miguel Gomes.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,279

Dir. Alexandre Koberidze
2021 | Georgia | Drama | 150 mins | 1.66:1 | Georgian
PG (passed clean)

Cast: Giorgi Ambroladze, Oliko Barbakadze, Giorgi Bochorishvili
Plot: A chance encounter on a street corner has Lisa and Giorgi fall in love at first sight, but an evil spell is cast on them. Will they ever meet again?
Awards: Won FIPRESCI Prize & Nom. for Golden Bear (Berlinale)
International Sales: Cercamon

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Light – Connection, People, Experiences
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse

Viewed: National Gallery
Spoilers: No

I’ll admit the title of the film got me interested to see this—it goes to show that having an interesting title for a movie is half the marketing battle won.  The next thing is for the prospective viewer to take that courageous step to try it out. 

At 15o minutes, it does seem daunting, and coming from Georgia, it may be a hard sell except to niche arthouse audiences, but having seen it, I think it is a quaint, quite accessible if slightly overlong, work that may prove interesting even to less adventurous cinephiles. 

Written, directed and edited by emerging Georgian director Alexandre Koberidze, What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? is his second feature, winning the FIPRESCI prize at the Berlinale earlier this year. 

It’s a romance tale at heart, perhaps one might even call it romantic in its sheer naturalism as it explores a town in Georgia and its inhabitants, most notably two—a man and a woman who have a chance encounter and fall in love at first sight. 

“Maybe next time we don’t leave it to chance?”

The problem—and this is Koberidze’s cheeky attempt at reconfiguring the genre—is that a curse renders them physically unidentifiable to each other when they attempt to meet the next evening. 

In that sense, Koberidze’s work is an anti-romanticisation of the romance tale, breaking it apart while never quite intending to want to piece it back together again. 

This, to me, is the most fascinating part of what is an entrancing film that recalls the artful whimsy and playful storytelling of, say, Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes (check out his 2008’s Our Beloved Month of August or 2012’s Tabu). 

It could have been easily titled “What Does the Sky See When It Looks at the Ground?”, and it would still be as apt as ever, suggesting that whether heaven or earth, there’s boundless, curious beauty in nature, people and objects.  For football fans, the film is also a fantasy.

Grade: B+


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