And Then We Danced review: a blazing story of dance and forbidden desire

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Levan Gelbakhiani plays dancer Merab in Levan Akin's And Then We Danced
Levan Gelbakhiani plays dancer Merab in Levan Akin's And Then We Danced Credit: Landmark Media

Dir: Levan Akin. Cast: Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakishvili, Giorgi Tsereteli, Tamar Bukhnikashvili, Marika Gogichaishvili. 15 cert, 113 min

And Then We Danced takes you to another world – a Georgian dance academy in Tbilisi – and lets you reach it from the safety of your sofa, having accelerated its launch on Curzon Home Cinema. Since there’s also nowhere to see great choreography in our shuttered public spaces, this suddenly provides a double fix, serving up both radiantly lovely photography and electrifying sequences of traditional folk dance.

The whirling engine of the whole film, though, is a central character and performance of bolting-hare energy, a young hero whose unstable paths through career ambition and love are set fizzingly at cross purposes. Merab, played in a great acting debut by the fabulous dancer Levan Gelbakhiani, is an ambitious student on the brink of great things; his female partner, played very sweetly by Ana Javakishvili, is a kind-of-girlfriend but more of a best friend, in ways he understands more profoundly than she does.

Merab is a dervish on the practice floor but his instructor still finds him “too soft” – a critique that makes him boil with frustration and implied insult. It’s precisely at this moment that a new recruit, Irakli (Bachi Valishvili), enters the fray, darkly handsome and in danger of upstaging Merab just as auditions for a national ensemble spot are hotting up. Their rivalry is charged from the off by a dangerous frisson of desire – this in a profession where same-sex scandal has ruined at least one career, and where the emphasis on locked-down tradition is all-encompassing.

Step by vigorous step, the film thrusts its way into the “forbidden romance” category of love story, but it also has half a foot dangling out at all times, as if poised for a nervy escape. Irakli is such an elusive figure, disappearing for whole reels to attend to a home life of his own, while Merab deals with a hothead brother and elders he doesn’t want to disappoint. Their attraction is volatile but not equally weighted, and it’s this aspect of it most of all, along with Gelbakhiani’s faun-like looks and near-bipolar intensity, that brings Call Me By Your Name三级成人视频 most readily to mind.

W三级成人视频e’re also in the “sexual awakening” genre here – cue a heart-in-mouth night-time rendezvous with undeniable echoes of Moonlight. Acute though Levan Akin’s direction is, the film sometimes feels too aware of these cinematic precedents, too willing to plot a course we’ve followed before. This holds it back in some ways from being a classic of its kind.

三级成人视频But only a little. Even when it’s treating us more than strictly surprising us, it’s shot through with luscious visual texture. Eventually – and laudably – it flies off in less guessable directions, gearing up for a finale that owes as much to Whiplash as any LGBT+ drama you could name.

O三级成人视频ne pretence Akin can’t begin to pull off is the idea that Irakli is a superior dancer to Merab, on which the plot initially hinges. With no disrespect to Valishvili, who does a bang-up job with every other aspect of his role, he’s simply not the dancer Gelbakhiani is, on any day of the week. Every cut favours the latter, and rightly so – it’s his fiery athleticism you can’t take your eyes off, and his furious workouts that push the film into ever more interesting places.

三级成人视频Watching him master this rigidly stylised form and then remaster it, insolently deconstruct it, or playfully sidle up to Irakli in a private moment of pure self-expression – these spectacles are all the drama the film needs. And its star could hardly be better qualified to make Merab’s learning curve a blazing arc through the sky.

And Then We Danced is available on demand through