Since Otar Left

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  • Lies and Deception: The Price of Love!
    Since Otar Left is a touching story about three generations of women living together in Soviet Republic enduring the hardships of the home where electricity and water cut off periodically.

    A ninety year old Grandmother, Eka lives with her daughter Marina and granddaughter Ada. Grandmother Eka son's has left for France to work and he corresponds through letters and phone calls; he also includes money in the letters. Grandmother stops everything to take his call and has granddaughter Ada read the letters, because Ada reads them better than Marina.

    We learn immediately about the profound love Eka has for her son and how daughter Marina feels slighted over her mother's love for Otar. We do not see Otar, we only know of his presence among the family. Then, news arrives that Otar is dead. Mother Marina and Ada decide to lie to Eka and embark on a web of deception to keep the truth from her. Ada starts creating letters from Otar, but no money is included. Phone calls don't come from Otar and Grandmother is suspicious.

    The deception continues and Grandmother has an urge to find out for herself and arranges a trip for all three to France, where Otar was working.

    Ester Gorintin's (Eka) performance is powerful. Her role is not heavy in dialogue or action. Her face doesn't reveal lots of emotion, but it is in her eyes, her body movements, her mannerisms. You get great insight into her maternal love for her son via the only communication avenues she is left with, mail and phone calls.

    The languages spoken are Russian and French with English subtitles. The DVD features director Julie Bertucelli in making of scenes and photos. See this film with the entire family. ......MzRizz

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  • Definitely not a feel good film
    While films like this, "Distant" and "The Return" are good films, it is no surprise why they are not getting more play in the US. They are depressing. This was more upbeat than those 2 other films but still not exactly upbeat entirely. Most films of this nature that are produce in the US are not successful either. I found this film to be good and it even reminded me of my own grandmother who was from Belarus. Still, I will not be popping this into my DVD player to just sit and watch with my wife and family. This is a moody film and a teary eyed one at that. I felt like I did when Six Feet Under was on. That show used to have me crying every week. I loved it, but was happy when the series ended. Getting that depressed on a weekly basis is not for everyone, certainly not me....more info
  • "So what if we know about the lies?" "So what if we don't?"
    SINCE OTAR LEFT ("Depuis qu'Otar est parti...")is a wonderfully sensitive exploration about the transitions made from youth to middle age to old age and the associated means of communication that imprison us or free us at every juncture. Julie Bertucelli directs this tender tale co-written with Bernard Renucci that focuses on the lives of three women: Eka (in a brilliantly subdued portrayal by Esther Gorintin) who is the elderly mother to Marina (Nino Khomasuridze) and grandmother to Ada (Dinera Drukarova). The three live together in a por crowded apartmanet in Tbilisi, Georgia enduring private disappointments: Eka's life is flat line except for the weekly letters form her physician son Otar in Paris (he has escaped Georgia only to find poverty in the poor sector as a construction worker which he keeps as his secret); Marina feels 'second rate' to her mother's preferred son Otar in Paris and remains unmarried and discontent with her station in life, sleeping with one man Tengiz (Temur Kalandadze) knowing htat he may be good in bed but is not husband material; and Ada, who is young, high-spirited, and discontent with the rigidity of living in Tbilisi with all of its restrictions on her life.

    While Eka is away for a week at the family dacha, Marina and Ada receive news that Otar is dead by accidental circumstances. Knowing Eka will be devastated with the news of the loss of her 'favorite child', Marina decides to keep it a secret and Ada reluctantly goes along with the lie, consenting to continue writing letters from Otar to protect the feelings of the aging Eka - a lie that seems to be working fine when Eka returns.

    Marina and Ada leave for a week's trip, and return to find that Eka has decided to sell everything she owns in order to buy tickets to Paris for the three of the women to visit Otar. Marina and Ada maintain the lie, accompany Eka, and while off seeing the sites of Paris (a city Ada adores and feels renewed in) Eka sets out on her own to find Otar. She eventually finds the apartment where he lived and is brusquely informed by the tenant that Otar the doctor died some months back. Eka is stunned, but in her contemplation she copes with the reality, and decides not to share her newfound news with Marina and Ada. With enormous courage and simple humanity Eka tells Marina and Ada her own lie that Otar has left for America where he will be able to find freedom and success and happiness. The way this effects the three women is the poignant ending of the film.

    Each of the actors in this exquisite story is absolutely first rate. The photography is correctly claustrophobic in Tbilisi and open in Paris. The dialogue is both in French and Georgian and the subtitles are superb. This is a powerful story and a moving film that knocks on the doors of our hearts without the least hint of being saccharine. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, February 2005...more info
  • Surviving by living a fiction
    Life in Tbilisi in 2002 for the three generations of women at the center of this film--the indomitable 90-year old Eka, her cynical daughter Marina, and her dutiful teenage granddaughter Ada-- is not very easy. The electricity and the water in their formerly elegant apartment is intermittent, and the only sources of income are what little Marina can make by selling household objects in the city park and the money sent to them from Paris by Eka's beloved son Otar, who has left Georgia to eke out a better life. The film starts by letting us get caught up in the rhythms of these women's lives as they squabble, complain, tend to one another, and wait for Otar to contact his doting mother by phone of by letter--and then a disaster occurs when Marina and Ada discover that Otar has died while illegally working on a construction site. Fearful of devastating the physically fragile Eka, they concoct an elaborate lie that he is still alive and sending his mother letters Ada pens.

    On its own terms, this little film--the first-time effort of Julie Bertocelli--is just about perfect. The characters are beautifully layered, so that our initial opinions of them become slowly changed as the film progresses so we see that Eka is much more generous, Marina more fragile, and Ada more independent than we initially are led to believe. The film is an extended meditation on nostalgia, and how we cling to our pasts to survive and expect our loved ones to do the same; it's also a study of beauty, and Bertocelli's lovely use of composition and color show us why living in Shevardnaze's slowly disintegrating Georgia after the fall of the USSR has its compensations. This is an excellent film--one that has a subject matter that will seem unfamiliar to many Western viewers who do not know Tbilisi or Georgia, but one that is both rich and repaying....more info
  • Amazing movie!
    The acting is superb, the cinematography is amazing and the story is something you have to experience yourself. It's about three generations of women, it's about a lifelong dream of the grandmother, and it's about this dream being fulfilled, albeit under unfortunate circumstances, by the granddaughter. Very deep, yet very light. ...more info
  • Grandma knows best
    SINCE OTAR LEFT can perhaps serve as a reminder that the mental acuity of old people is not to be disregarded.

    Here, it's post-Soviet Georgia in its capital, Tbilisi. In an economy plagued by off-again, on-again water and power services, a family of three generations of women struggles to make ends meet, often having to resort to selling household possessions or seek charity from friends. The aging and increasingly feeble matriarch, Eka (Esther Gorintin), who still remembers and admires the effectual Stalin, is cared for by her daughter Marina (Dinara Droukarova), widowed by her husband's death in Afghanistan, and her grandaughter, the teenage Ada (Nino Khomassouridze). Eka's son Otar, a Moscow-trained physician, has been living in Paris, where he works as a common laborer to send money home to Mom in loving letters. Otar is the apple of Eka's eye, and Marina, despite her selfless efforts as Eka's daily caregiver, constantly comes in a frustrating second. One day, Marina receives word of her brother's death in a construction accident. Fearing the effect the tragedy would have on Eka, Marina and Ada conspire to keep the news from the old woman, going so far as to write fake letters from Otar, in which "he" continues to describe his life and improving circumstances in the French capital. Though grandma begins to wonder why the letters no longer contain money, and why Otar no longer calls on the phone - the latter circumstance explained away in the first forgery as being due to a new job that requires Otar to work nights - the ploy succeeds for months.

    For the first two-thirds of the film, Eka is pretty much portrayed as a non-entity, an uncomplaining and reasonably cheery geriatric shuffling towards eventual death with her absent son the only bright spot in her existence. Eka is the sweet grandmother we all might like to have at family reunions, but would otherwise dismiss during the rush of daily events. We would perhaps ignore under her quiet stoicism the spark of a continued interest in life and the potential for decisive action. In Eka's case, these become apparent when Marina and Eka go off for a vacation in the country with Marina's boyfriend. Left to her own devices under the loose supervision of a neighbor, Eka first goes out for a fun day on the town, which involves buying two cigarettes from a street vendor, and smoking them while riding the Ferris wheel in the city amusement park. On their eventual return, Marina and Ada, the latter having since declared her intention to remove herself from the ongoing fraud, discover that Eka has taken matters into her own hands, and has elevated the fiction about Otar to a new level of unsupportability.

    The more I think about this low key drama, which has humorous undertones, the more I see in it to admire. The film, without being strident on the subject, defines the three generations affected by Soviet communism: Eka, belonging to the generation of true believers; Marina, raised under socialism's promise only to be marooned above the high tide mark with the USSR's dissolution; Ada, now free to make her own way in a new world if only she has the courage. Ada's subsequent opportunity for escape is made possible by her grandmother's determination and canny perception, subsurface qualities otherwise unsuspected by the audience and Eka's family, and which, in the end, make Eka the true heroine of this gentle and poignant motion picture. Though not a great film by any standard, I liked it very much.
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  • Since Otar Left
    This touching film speaks to the irrational ties of familial loyalty that even a lifetime of hurt won't extinguish. With warmth and subtlety, it details how the younger generation of women protect the health and well-being of the eldest through the kindest of deceptions. Though consumed by long-simmering resentment over Eka's favoritism toward her only son, Marina still makes an unselfish choice to shield Eka from hurt ."Otar" is a life-affirming gem, with all three actresses superb in the central roles, particularly Gorintin, who broke my heart as Eka....more info
  • Dull
    Since Otar Left takes place in Paris and Georgia. Not the state, but the country that was once part of the USSR. It's about there generations of women. Mother, daughter and granddaughter. The middle age daughter and granddaughter kept a lie about Otar. He died in Paris but the daughter didn't want to tell her mom. Otar was mother's favorite child and the reasons the daughter wouldn't tell was because she thought it would break her heart. She was also afraid that Otar would become a saint in her mother's eyes and she didn't want to live with that. I felt the the daughter, taking care of a parent who doesn't appreciate you isn't easy (I know from experience!).

    I really wanted to like this movie but I couldn't. I did like the grandmother's performance. Actually, the acting in general was pretty good. I just felt it was slow moving. In general I like foreign films because it's often about people and their relationships. But this was just boring to me. I just couldn't get myself to feel much for the characters.
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  • What a wonderful surprise!
    Thank God for the Sundance Channel or I'd probably never have stumbled upon this utter gem. If some of the plot elements of "Since Otar Left" tempt you to dismiss it as some sort of "girlie film" or some sort of "weepie" only women might be able to enjoy or understand, all I can say is, please don't dismiss it that way because it's much broader and deeper in scope and impact than that, as can be gathered from the other fine reviews already posted here by others who've seen the film.

    If you're a glutton for great screenplays and tour-de-force acting, you owe it to yourself to see "Since Otar Left" because you will not believe, until you see it, how amazing Esther Gorintin's performance is as the problematical, adorable matriarch. If you're still not quite sure that this is "your type of movie," give it a chance, and I guarantee you, it'll suck you right in.

    There's a wordless glance, a silent timeless moment, passing between grandmother and granddaughter toward the end of the film that's so sublime it'll knock your socks off and leave you screaming inside your own head: "Why oh why aren't we making more movies like this in the United States?" Maybe it's because our film directors or screen writers are terrified of silent timeless moments onscreen and are constantly taking the easy way out, attempting to force into the spoken word (or into the flashy special effect) everything that can never be said that way.

    Won't find that type of nonsense here. The dialog in "Since Otar Left" is brilliant (and the subtitles do it justice), but it's really all in the eyes. ...more info
  • Georgia on my mind . . .
    I loved this film. It opened a window onto a world I'd never seen in a film before - Tblisi in Georgia (former soviet republic) - and while it moves slowly as a story, who cares? Its three central characters are the core of a wonderful ensemble of actors. The joy of the film is in the nuances, from the very opening scene, where a disparaging sidelong glance is all a white-haired mother needs to give to discourage her middle-aged daughter from taking a nibble from the old woman's piece of cake. The action speaks volumes.

    Meanwhile, there is the day-by-day struggle to put food on the table and somehow survive in this new capitalist economy, where everyone it seems is at the flea market trying to sell household goods and other belongings for a little money to keep things going. A birthday gathering brings together a room full of friends and relatives, singing songs that begin sadly and then grow in volume, as guests leap up to dance. A daughter asks her mother if a man they see in uniform looks like her father, a casualty in Afghanistan. Two unmarried people in their middle years carry on a friendly relationship, and one remarks off-handedly to the other, "I wish I were in love with you." The same woman shampoos her mother's hair, as the old woman complains bitterly that the water is either too hot or too cold.

    While there is an arc to the film involving a much loved son gone to work in Paris and the unfortunate circumstances leading to a series of lies meant to cover them up, it doesn't matter as much as the slow progress of one thing after another in a city where hope is on hold and getting by and little victories are enough. Definitely for lovers of small, independent films. The DVD includes lengthy featurettes devoted to the film's production.

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  • Very compelling and interesting.
    This movie is a beautiful and nostalgic picture of people living in Post-Soviet era. Georgia is going prety much through the same problems other East-European countries are. No jobs, living like there is no tomorrow and constant fear of hunger. Uncertain future is common denominator to all countries in the region.
    Many people, like Otar in this movie, are forced to find better means of survival. Usualy it means leaving the country and finding menial jobs abroad in order to put food on the table.
    This movie paints realistic and everyday picture of life in Eastern Europe. At the same time, it is very sad and moving....more info


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