Special Jury Award/New Horizons Competition- On screen, the experience of love too often comes across as loud, splashy, overly dramatic. But with his second feature film—following up his lauded Street Days (2010), one of several recent heralds that Georgia is experiencing a cinema renaissance—Levan Koguashvili treats the emotion as the quiet, conflicted, misunderstood thing that it is. His hero of sorts is Sandro (Kakhi Kavsadze), a 40-year-old schoolteacher whom life is slowly passing by. This is killing his kvetching parents, of course. Momma wants some grandbabies before she dies, and dad wants to see him get out of the house and find a purpose, start being the kind of stand-up guy Georgia is known for. Awkward Internet-arranged blind dates notwithstanding, Sandro’s best hope for love comes when he meets Manana, a beautiful mother to a teenage daughter and wife to temperamental jailbird Tengo. Sandro seems determined not to let Tengo’s release from prison spoil his shot with Manana, but when the two men cross paths Sandro’s life starts heading in a very different direction.
Working from a nicely ripened script he cowrote with Latvian writer/director Boris Frumin, Koguashvili trusts that his audience can read between Blind Dates’ (relatively few) lines. More expression is carried in Kavsadze’s brooding eyes and drooped shoulders than on his lips. A perfect complement is Tato Kotetishvili’s unfussy but beautiful cinematography, which perfectly captures all the delicate details in the production design: the sparse arrangement of a cheap hotel room, the courtyards of Tbilisi’s worn-out concrete buildings, a two-table cafe on the wet, rocky shore.