Dea Kulumbegashvili‘s debut feature is a sombre, grim, cruel, and deeply unsettling meditation on religion and patriarchal societies with a mesmerising yet understated performance from Ia Sukhitashvili.
Set in a community of persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses in Georgia, Yana (Ia Sukhitashvili) and her husband David (Rati Oneli) are fortunate to be alive after extremists attack their place of worship with Molotov cocktails. This shocking incident sets in motion a horrific series of events, which sees the depressed and discontented Yana, who was already tormented by her lack of agency when the film began, over the edge.
Its hard to believe that this is a directorial debut. Every glorious shot of Kulumbegashvili’s film is well-composed and she allows the static camera to linger for such long periods of time to keep the audience perpetually uneasy. Static, unbroken shots are also utilised during the film’s darkest and most violent scenes, making them even more brutal to endure as we are given no escape from the sadism of Yana’s world.
Sukhitashvili’s performance is utterly engrossing and the horrific action she takes during the film’s climax had the audience gasping in shock.
Other than a few inaccuracies about what the religion teaches, especially about their beliefs concerning the afterlife, this is a gripping directorial debut that you won’t soon forget…
Reviewed by Jordan Ellis
Beginning is currently screening as part of the Adelaide Film Festival.
Click here to book tickets.