While the neorealist tradition remains best remembered for its formal innovations — for the unprecedented naturalism afforded by the style — its most significant feature may simply be the look of the time and place it captured.
In the films of Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini, in particular, unadorned depictions of postwar Italy form a gallery of desolation and despair, cityscapes reduced to mere rubble. It’s in this sense that neorealism is the tradition to which Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross’s In Bloom urgently belongs.
This is a film for which the landscape, both social and material, is paramount: Its conception of Georgia in the aftermath of its separation from the Soviet Union, based on Ekvtimishvili’s own experience, is founded in an evocation of urban ruin, a once-ordinary city seized by discord as it’s suddenly vacated of authority and order.
Rent violently asunder, in 1992, by a coup d’état and a three-year civil war, Georgia was certainly a volatile home for a young girl of the era to come of age — though as Ekvtimishvili deftly proves, no degree of political strife can eclipse the more universal turbulence of youth, which beleaguers the 14-year-old Eka (Lika Babluani) all the same.
In Bloom renders its every adult bitter and ineffectual, complaining incessantly but never heard; the children, meanwhile, carry on defiantly, even insolently, revolting against schoolmasters, stealing from parents.
The site of the action, the pummeled landscape of revolution and war, isn’t incidental — it’s what their generation has inherited, alongside disorder and dissent.