By Madeleine Wall
It is inevitable that any reunion will always be more than the sum of its parts. Tamar Shavgulidze‘s Comets is a slight drama where two childhood friends, Irina (Nino Kasradze) and Nana (Ketevan Gegeshidze), have their own Janus-faced meeting. The film begins in the domestic realm of Nana, who spends a morning sorting blackberries with her sullen daughter, also named Irina (Ekaterine Kalatozishvili). A sudden disruption occurs when the elder Irina arrives, after which the story reframes and the two older women break off and begin coming to terms with the distance that has grown between them over the years.
As the two women grapple with their respective changes, scars of unknown origin and lives shaped by various wars, each in turn lets down her guard. We learn that their friendship had developed into a love which the two would carry with them always, but which had happened during an era where they could never be together. Shavgulidze wisely braids in flashbacks of the quiet, intimate moments between her protagonists, curled up on a blanket watching a movie or playing cards, leaving the fraught moments of their youth to be recounted, absent direct representation, by their present-day selves. There are some memories which are easier to speak about than to remember, and the two women must face that even now, following a wave of social progress, a life together is still an impossibility. Still, this is not a movie without hope, and in a turn which doesn’t quite live up to its ambitions, Shavgulidze uses cinema itself to allow her characters the possibility of happiness.