What Do We See When We Look At The Sky?


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

What Do We See When We Look At The Sky?
"Digression builds upon detour, which piles charmingly onto excursion, sometimes lifted, sometimes pushed and always shaped by a score that also roams freely in its influences." | Photo: Faraz Fesharaki/DFFB

This shaggy dog fairy tale - with added, non-shaggy dogs - is a ruminative charmer, with the story roaming freely around its central will they/won't they romance plot. Georgian director Aleksandre Koberidze positively luxuriates in his meanderings and musings, for which he also provides sometimes humorous, often philosophical narration, so if you like your tales to plot a direct course then this may not be for you, but those who enjoy a cinematic dalliance could do a lot worse than go on this ramble with him.

A chance encounter, just one of the many comings and goings, kicks things off - and the football metaphor is appropriate as the "beautiful game" also has a co-starring role here. The encounter happens between pharmacist Lisa (Oliko Barbakadze) and footballer Giorgi (Giorgi Ambroladze) and, in a typically quirky move in a movie that is packed with them, we are offered only a feet-level view of it, as they bump into each other, not once but twice, and immediately decide to arrange a date.

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This being a fairy tale, at least in part, the course of their love is not about to run smooth - with Lisa being informed that, for reasons never explained, someone has put the evil eye on them meaning that her appearance will be entirely transformed the next day. What she doesn't know is that Giorgi, too, will no longer look like himself (with the roles now taken on by Ani Karseladze and Giorgi Bochorishvili) and that both of them will lose their job skills.

Unable to recognise the man of her dreams and forced to seek alternative employment, Lisa ends up at a park café serving ice-cream, while Giorgi, in another chance encounter with the café’s owner, finds himself wistfully thinking of the romance that might have been while in charge of a nearby but different sort of bar entirely – one which people attempt to hang from by their arms in order to win a prize. What follows has the feel of the sort of story you might tell if you were people watching this situation from the café, with each person or animal who strays into view having their own tale. Like Simon and Garfunkel's America, Koberidze is playing games with the faces and he wants us to join him as we all go to look for the town of Kutaisi in all its multifaceted glory.

We care about the sweet little pair at the story’s heart but, under Koberidze’s guidance we’re also soon intrigued by the dogs, who like many of the humans here, are apparently keen to watch the World Cup unfold on big screens at various points in the area and by the children whose freewheeling energy scoops us up with them as they enjoy a kickabout. Digression builds upon detour, which piles charmingly onto excursion, sometimes lifted, sometimes pushed and always shaped by a score that also roams freely in its influences. Koberidze makes us alive to the possibilities of the town and its inhabitants as we pay a visit to a countryside bakery for little other reason than to enjoy the mood, watch Lisa as she travels the spiral staircase of a conservatoire in search of a cure for her curse or learn that dogs, just like us, can fall out over a favourite venue to watch the match.

Like the football, this is a game of sorts, with Koberidze using his narrative like a pitch, weaving up and down it as though his story were a ball, sometimes passing it to us for us to play with, but just as often nutmegging us when we least expect it and haring off in another direction. The goal is evident from the start but the question is how will he reach it? The answer is unexpectedly but with panache.

Reviewed on: 04 Mar 2021
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A couple who fall in love at first sight, wake the next day with different appearances and struggle to find one another.
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Director: Aleksandre Koberidze

Starring: Irina Chelidze, Giorgi Bochorishvili, Ani Karseladze, Giorgi Ambroladze

Year: 2021

Runtime: 150 minutes

Country: Germany, Georgia

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