To its mild detriment, Beginning stays on a cerebral plane even at its most ravaging and emotionally intense. But in its muted havoc lies a potent intellectual laceration.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
As a purely aesthetic cinematic experience, Beginning will surely number among the best of the year.
In Beginning, the borders of the frame aren’t just the iron bars of a jail cell, they’re also the garden walls of Eden, the tempting hiss of the snake, and the angel of the lord who interrupted Abraham from killing his son.
The low-key, serene natural beauty of Beginning’s setting provides a counterpoint to the often-disturbing events of the film.
Rarely has a film made me so painfully, viscerally aware of the impotence of spectatorship — of the dubious remove from which we watch suffering.
Beginning is not a derivative work. Its slow-cinema trappings aren’t merely plucked from the films that have taught its maker along the way, but prove a rhythmically apt, intuitive way into the headspace of its protagonist, a woman who feels her very life has been put on pause.
There is cruelty here but also tenderness, and hellish images that are followed by glimpses of a terrestrial paradise.
Whether this challenging film is more than the sum of its formally inventive parts will depend on a viewer’s patience, as well as their tolerance for ambiguity and discomfort.
Kulumbegashvili’s style is confident, if derivative. Her technique now has to evolve away from these self-conscious influences.
Sukhitashvili’s subtle performance brings interiority to a character who might otherwise be defined entirely by her suffering.