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BRIGHTON 4TH (2021, GRU) – 7.5/10

Georgian Levan Koguashvili won the prize for the best film in the international selection of the prestigious festival in American Tribeca for this tragicomic drama filmed according to the script of the experienced Latvian filmmaker Boris Frumin. He was “Brighton 4th” and a Georgian candidate for the Oscar, and here we follow the story of retired and former wrestling champion Khaki (Levan Tediashvili), who went from Tbilisi to New York to try to get his son Sosa (Giorgi Tabidze) out of debt. As you can guess, Soso went to America to study, but it didn’t quite go according to plan because he completely abandoned his studies, he works as a furniture delivery man, and the 15 thousand dollars he was supposed to pay to his Russian girlfriend with American citizenship Lena (Nadezhda Mihalkova, the daughter of the famous Russian filmmaker Nikita Mihalkov, whom we first saw on film as a little girl in her father’s masterpiece “Burnt by the Sun”), he gambled on his visa for the wedding and ended up in debt to Russian racketeers.

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Gambling and betting is clearly in the blood of this family, as in the great opening scene of a Tbilisi bookmaker, we see chaos during the broadcast of an English league match. Two guys almost got into a fight, and the one who got kicked out is Khaki’s younger brother and Sosa’s uncle. He has just gambled away the money his wife sent him from America and the bank is taking his apartment, and somehow the stoic and silent Khaki does not tell his wife what is happening with their son in America and she thinks that Soso is still an exemplary student. When Khaki arrives in America, only then does complete chaos arise because Koguashvili takes us to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brighton Beach, where mostly immigrants from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union live.

And it all seems extremely realistic and authentic, and a good part of the residents of that neighborhood are there illegally and do the lowest paid jobs or engage in petty crime and smuggling. Brighton Beach is the place where America begins for practically all immigrants from the former USSR, but for a good part of them, America ends there because they will never be able to leave there. And Koguashvili brilliantly shows what the lives of those people who live there, drink and suffer for the homeland they left in search of a better life, but were not really happy.

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And Khaki is a great character, a guy who’s obviously been through everything and anything, and even though he doesn’t understand English, we’ll understand that he’s great at reading people. The fact that he was once a champion in wrestling certainly helped him in this, and he was embodied by Levan Tediashvili, one of the best wrestlers of all time, a double Olympic winner in 1972 and 1976 who did not experience a single defeat for even five years. Although his only acting experience was in 1987, Tediashvili seems so natural, at times like the only normal person in all this chaos of Russian speakers, and in the end he will think of a way to get his son out of trouble.

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