Dea Kulumbegashvili’s Beginning, on mubi, studies a suffering woman with a static camera

Posted on January 29, 2021


When we talk of single-take shots, we think back to “how did they do that?” marvels like Martin Scorsese’s nightclub-entry shot in Good Fellas. It’s different here.

Spoilers ahead…

Some films, like Blue is the Warmest Colour or The Brown Bunny, become notorious for sex scenes. Some films, like Irréversible, becoming controversial talking points for the amounts of violence they contain. Other films, like The Last Temptation of Christ, become a hot-button issue because they outrage people’s faith and beliefs. Some films gain notoriety for their gaze. When Abdellatif Kechiche’s Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno premiered in Venice, people complained about the excessive objectification of women. The sequel, Intermezzo, which premiered at Cannes, was practically a three-and-a-half hour advertisement for fleshy buttocks.

Georgian director Dea Kulumbegashvili’s Beginning, which premieres on mubi today, is hardly controversial in the sense discussed above. But had the Cannes film festival taken place as planned (Beginning was an official selection), I suspect it would have become notorious for the fact that nothing “happens” for long stretches of time. This is not exactly a new phenomenon, of course, especially if you’ve made your way around what’s come to be known as Slow Cinema. (Mexican auteur and Slow Cinema exponent Carlos Reygadas is on board as an executive producer.) Still, I suspect “what did you think of the scene where she lies down in a forest and closes her eyes and stays still for some seven minutes?” would have become a buzzy talking point.

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