Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Nikolaï is a French expatriate living in Georgia. He has a nice looking home and an attractive partner, but making a living isn't easy, so he accepts work as a translator wherever he can get it. His latest assignment is with three young French friends, one of whom has inherited a castle from her grandmother.

To reach this castle, they must travel across country on a rickety old bus in the company of eccentric strangers. Amongst these strangers are an old man and a youth, carrying a coffin. They are going to the village of their enemies, where the old man is due to be killed, a sacrifice which he hopes will put an end to an ancient blood feud. Shocked by this, the young foreigners are determined to tag along. But do they really care, or is their interest primarily voyeuristic? Even with the best will in the world, their cultural ignorance means that they could do more harm than good.

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Legacy is a brave and curious film, taking a popular premise - the familiar protagonists exploring an unfamiliar place - and turning it on its head. Through these blundering individuals we see in microcosm the damage which can be done when two cultures collide and the foolishness of assuming that one culture has all the right answers, the other being primitive.

The legacy of the title is not simply the castle - which might also defy the young visitors' expectations - nor the blood feud, which compels people to suffer for wrongs committed by their ancestors - but the legacy of French involvement in Georgia. We learn about this through snatched conversations whose awkwardness itself relates to the imbalance between its participants - the impoverished locals and the visitors walking round with hundreds of euros in their pockets. Nikolaï is caught in the middle, increasingly uncomfortable, his translations unable to bridge the ever-widening gap.

In developing this subtle and haunting story, Legacy moves very slowly, often relying on the beauty of the landscape to fill meaningful silences - yet without sufficiently strong cinematography to make that work. Nothing here is bad, but in places it isn't good enough to pull of what it's trying to do. It could really have benefited from stronger performances - the visitors are necessarily bland but we don't get to see enough of Nikolaï. Only George Babluani, as the condemned man's grandson, really stands out. Legacy remains a fascinating film, but one has the feeling that it just missed being something unforgettable.

Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2007
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Three French friends traveling in Georgia are horrified and intrigued when they encounter a man who is scheduled to be killed in an attempt to end an ancient blood feud.
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Director: Géla Babluani, Temur Babluani

Writer: Géla Babluani, Temur Babluani

Starring: Pascal Bongard, Sylvie Testud, Stanislas Merhar, Olga Legrand, George Babluani, Leo Gaparidze, Augustin Legrand

Year: 2006

Runtime: 77 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Georgia, France

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