Language: English, some dialogue in Russian and Georgian (quality varies)
Availability: Readily available in the US. Netflix: DVD rental. Amazon: Instant Video rental and DVD for purchase.
After all the moaning and groaning I’d heard about this movie I was prepared for (and maybe even hoping for) the worst. I have to say that actually, it’s not bad. I don’t recommend you rush out and buy every copy in the store, but if it’s available as an in-flight movie, or you’re particularly attached to one of the actors, or have some other reason compelling you to watch it, it’s OK. I’d say it’s 3 stars out of 5. It is, however, very, VERY graphically bloody. You have been warned. Most of the criticism I’ve heard of the movie has been about its (lack of) accuracy, to which I have to say “Well, what did you expect?”. Yes, the movie is fictionalized–it’s a Hollywood film. Yes, the movie is one-sided–it was sponsored by the Georgian government (actually it wasn’t as one-sided as I expected–there were some good Russians). The movie does have some good, very basic introductory information for people who have never heard of Georgia before–where it is, what the major political issues are, et cetera. It also features some really lovely montages of Tbilisi, and some nicely performed traditional Georgian song and dance. The (mis)pronunciations of various words and phrases bothered me a bit; it took me quite a while to figure out where the “Skin Valley” was (FYI–it’s Tskhinvali) As a shallower comment, Rupert Friend, the male lead, has impressive cheekbones and brooding looks. Be forewarned–there’s a “documentary” section at the end that I was not remotely prepared for. The subtitles also seemed to be in a smaller font size than other films (is there a way to change that?)
Hopefully this movie, which I assume has a wider audience than most Georgian films, will serve as a starting point and inspire people to learn more about the region and the real issues that are fictionalized in the movie. I have my doubts that this will happen, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised.