And Then We Danced isn't the most original story, but it's important in the context of its country. It's not well edited at all, but it's uniformly well-acted, and the central character is the highlight, especially following his inner journey was powerful. The film is sweet and moving in those wordless scenes, which are easily the best ones, while the others suffered in comparison. The traditional/modern dance dichotomy is another highlight here.
5 of 5 stars
One of the best Queer movies of all time
5 of 5 stars
A brilliant cast of newcomers deliver captivating performances. The closer the camera gets, the more effective they are. This is not a "usual coming out story," but a very individual version of a journey taken by many. There are no big announcements in this film or happily-ever-afters. Nobody grows magic golden hearts; but a couple of characters reveal the depth of heart they've always had, but might not have shown before.
3 of 5 stars
What people need to know about this film is that it is a gay romance involving two males. That was not clear to me from the description, nor from what I saw of the trailer (I don't think I watched all of the trailer). While I like to think I am open-minded, I was totally not expecting this kind of romance. The mismatch between what I was expecting and what I actually got definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the film.
Even setting aside my surprise at the content of the story, the story itself ultimately felt somewhat unsatisfying and disappointing. I guess I was hoping for more for the characters involved.
Nonetheless, the film is well made and I found it interesting up to and including the ending. As an American, I was especially interested in getting a glimpse of Georgian life and culture that I am unlikely to ever experience myself.
5 of 5 stars
Absolutely beautiful film. The dancing is amazing the the story is relatable. Loved the Film.
3 of 5 stars
A happy ending with both of the lovers leaving Tbilisi would have been much better.
3 of 5 stars
That movie is a bit OK
5 of 5 stars
What a beautiful and refreshing treat this film is, the most heartfelt and sensitive film about love and attraction since "Call Me By Your Name". The scene between the young dancer and his brother who defended him is unforgettable. It says more about what love is than just about anything you are likely to see.
3 of 5 stars
The standard coming of age/coming out narrative may be almost trite in Western cinema these days, but talking about -- let alone depicting -- gay male sexuality in a film from the former Soviet republic of Georgia is quite a provocative move. That in itself makes "And Then We Danced" a daring subject for a movie -- and a commendable project -- from that nation. Through the lens of a traditional Georgian dance troupe, in which gender roles and stereotypes are rigidly defined both in the routines and the expected behavior of troupe members, the picture makes the case for a need for change in the acceptance of the LGBTQ community in a culture that's behind the times and unfairly (and legally) discriminatory. However, while the picture makes its point effectively, the script delivering it becomes unduly bogged down by a meandering story line in the second half after a carefully crafted opening. By trying to cover too much ground, the film seems to move about aimlessly as it inches toward a more cohesive concluding sequence that's more in line with the opening half. A little more tightening up in the screenplay and editing would have worked wonders for an otherwise-fine film. It's worth a watch, but catch it on DVD rather than rushing out to the theater.
3.5 of 5 stars
THE NIGHT THE TIGHTS WENT OUT IN GEORGIA - My Review Of AND THEN WE DANCED (3 1/2 Stars)
Sometimes it's important to view a film through the lens of its country of origin. What may seem standard for us may feel globally shifting for others. I came to Levan Akin's And Then We Danced with this in mind, knowing full well that the LGBTQ+ communities in Tblisi, Georgia do not enjoy the same rights or even recognition as their more westernized counterparts. The story of a young male dancer navigating his burgeoning gayness in a hyper-masculine, homophobic culture may seem quaint to others, but by immersing myself in his existing circumstances, I walked away mostly charmed and enlightened despite an often formulaic approach.
Akin, a Swedish citizen of Georgian descent, tells the story of Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani, a member of a traditional Georgian dance troupe, who at the outset gets called out by his macho, conversative coach Aleko (Kakha Gogidze) for dancing too softly. Telling everyone that there is no sex in Georgian dancing, his not-so-subtle warning has clearly been aimed at Merab. In fact, one of Merab's contemporaries has been expelled from the troupe for a gay incident. Enter the charming, handsome Irakli (Bachi Valishvili), a highly skilled dancer who replaced the ousted member and just in time for an important upcoming tryout. Merab's glances towards Irakli tell us everything we need to know despite Merab having a girlfriend, a fellow dancer named Mary (a sly, subtle performance from Ana Javakishvili). Irakli takes Merab under his wing as they rehearse their auditions together. Of course they fall in love, yet society rears its ugly head by putting countless obstacles in their paths. Still there's no stopping the attractions at play. Between the recent Portrait Of A Lady On Fire and this, they could launch a thousand college theses on same sex gazes.
In a strange way, the film plays like a male Flashdance. Take away the welding helmet and the buckets of water at the strip bar, and you have the story of a working class person who navigates romance on the way to a big, climactic audition scene. They both feel slightly undercooked as well, but at least this film has a society to blame for people not getting to live their authentic lives. It's very easy as a Westerner to yell back at the screen, "Why don't you just kiss him?", but the lives of queer people in so many parts of the world don't allow for it.
Gelbakhiani gives such a beautifully sensitive performance as a man who excels at making Mary think there's something there between them while beelining towards the real truth behind his affections. With very little dialogue about this dichotomy, Gelbakhiani almost entirely conveys his thoughts through his expressive eyes. Valishviki uses his smile and good looks to give a more traditional leading man performance. His makes his journey feel quite touching as he's faced with a decision to either please society or himself. I also really liked the actors who played Merab's parents and grandmother, all of whom were dancers, and feel very protective over Merab and his less dedicated, drug-dealing brother David (a vivid Giorgi Tsereteli), who barely makes an effort at the dance academy.
Through David, the coach, and the menacing owner of the troupe, we experience the ultra-macho side of Georgian life. Dance, to them, feels like a way to glorify the patriarchy, giving permission for men to treat women, as well as anyone who threatens their worldview, terribly. Luckily, the film takes us on a brief interlude into the underground gay world of Tblisi, giving us a shred of hope that there's a life beyond the norms. Akin, however, stays true to the culture he depicts, eschewing fantasy for what seems like a tiny baby step at the very end. Consider it Stonewall, Georgian style.
Cinematographer Lisabi Fridell and Production Designer Tee Baramidze capture the Post-Soviet look of the drab interiors and the amber hues emanating from the street lights. It works well to portray Merab's surroundings as ones he should attempt to escape. This contrasts beautifully to a key sequence in which he and his friends take a trip to a country villa. Everything seems more possible here than in their oppressive urban prison.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard that "coming out" stories just aren't interesting anymore, but without films like And Then We Danced, it's easy to forget how revolutionary it may seem for those who live in much less forgiving cultures. At its Georgian premiere, in fact, anti-gay protesters tried to shut it down. Luckily, they screened it anyhow. I consider that an incredible accomplishment for a film many would say has its shares of cliches. For that, and for the wonderful performances and the authentic design and filmmaking, I'm very happy it has found its place in the world.