And Then We Danced


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

And Then We Danced
"A passionate energy courses beneath the surface of Levan Akin's tale of love and repression" | Photo: Courtesy of La Quinzaine

A passionate energy courses beneath the surface of Levan Akin's tale of love and repression - embodied by the Georgian dances at its heart.

"You should be like a nail," Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is told by his stern dance instructor, ordering him to be more robust in his dance moves with is partner, and almost-girlfriend, Mary (Ana Javakishvili). "There is no sex in Georgian dance." But the moves the young dancer is performing are full of energy even if the facial expressions are intended to remain calm.

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Remaining calm and impassive is something he begins to find tough when new dancer Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) joins the company, with his roguish charm and superior moves sparking rivalry and something else. Akin quickly establishes the situation in Georgia for gay men, where admitting your sexual attraction could end in violence, allowing the sense of clear and ever-present threat to lie in the background as the unspoken desire begins to ramp up.

This unspoken intimacy builds through the way the two men dance together, aided by the loose and graceful handheld cinematography from Lisabi Fridell, with the pair frequently shot in warm light, Robyn's song Honey mirroring the glow Merab is bathed in as he dances seductively for Irakli.

As with last year's White Crow, the decision to cast a real dancer in the central role pays off and Gelbakhiani proves no slouch in the acting department either. There's a similar ripple of emotions to those realised by Timothee Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name, but here the sense of longing runs hotter and deeper, with Akin's approach much less coy and Gelbakhiani capturing the barely suppressed kinetic energy of first love and conveying longing and uncertainty in a glance. In one scene, we see the difference in Mareb's micro-expressions and body language when Irakli falls asleep on his shoulder - filled with barely concealed thrill - in contrast to what previously happened when Mary did the same and the film is peppered with such finely worked moments from the debutant actor.

If some of the plotting involving Mareb's ne'er do well brother David (Giorgi Tsereteli) feels a bit scrappy and predictable, Swedish director Akin - whose parents are Georgian - never loses his grip on the film's core emotions, whether it's between the brothers, Merab and Mary or in the central romance, he maintains a sweet intensity to the last.

Reviewed on: 16 Mar 2020
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And Then We Danced packshot
A dancer falls in love with his fiercest rival.
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Director: Levan Akin

Writer: Levan Akin

Starring: Ana Javakishvili, Giorgi Tsereteli, Tamar Bukhnikashvili, Marika Gogichaishvili, Kakha Gogidze, Levan Gabrava, Ana Makharadze, Nino Gabisonia, Mate Khidasheli, Aleko Begalishvili, Nia Gvatua, Lucas Hesling, Ketie Danelia, Giorgi Aladashvili, Soso Abramishvili

Year: 2019

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: Sweden, Georgia

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