Some dance when they are happy. Others do so when they wretchedly unhappy. Then some dance because they have nowhere to go, no other way to be transported away from their life of misery. Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) the young hero of Lavan Akin’s fascinating mellow-drama about a man, a dance, a tradition and a sexual preference, dances to escape from the inescapable sameness of his own life.
Merab doesn’t seem particularly unhappy in his home life. His home is small and his family survives on his income as a waiter. But it’s a cosy home filled with warmth and noise and food and drinks. Merab’s bonding with his grandmother whom he flirts with is especially gratifying. He also has a gorgeous girlfriend Mary (Ana Javakishvili), his childhood sweetheart who doesn’t know Merab is gay and waits for their “first time” with a condom primly packed in her purse.
Not that Merab is misleading Mary. He doesn’t himself know he is gay until another male dancer saunters into his dance class. Sparks and flames are ignited. It isn’t long before Merab and Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) are stealing glances and pleasuring one another behind rocks in lonely places where they won’t be caught. Because, God forbid, being caught doing things with a man in Georgia could mean not just the end of Merab’s dreams as a dancer, but also the end of his life.
And Then We Danced celebrates everything forbidden with a furtive giggle and a hidden ecstasy. It dares its protagonist to dream and then dares us to dream with him. There is a dream-like quality to the young lead Levan Gelbakhiani. When he glances at his grandmother, girlfriend, boyfriend or dog it is a piercing passionate look. When he dances he is like Sridevi in Lamhe. He explodes. The director allows the young man to break free from the traditional Georgian dance-form and give it his own seductive twist, his girlie interpretations. When at the end Merab’s dance teacher Aleko (Kakha Gogidze) accepts the break from tradition it’s a major victory for Merab.
In the penultimate sequence, Merab tells his boorish macho brother David (Giorgi Tsereteli) that he is gay. David doesn’t strangle his brother. He holds his face close to his chest and tells him to fly. No matter what your sexuality, this is a liberating film. What can be more liberating than two men in love dancing to ABBA’s Take A Chance On Me?
Directed by Levan Akin, And Then We Danced gets 4 stars!
Image source: Instagram/andthenwedanced, Youtube/Peccadillopictures, IMDb
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