Conor Bateman
June 29, 2017 — By Conor Bateman

My Happy Family

A review of Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß’ drama for 4:3.

Review: My Happy Family

For me, the most potent musical moment this Sydney Film Festival came courtesy of Georgian-German filmmaking pair Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß. At a school reunion on the outskirts of Tiblisi, the attendees — all in their early 50s — have worked their way through speeches and gossip and one among them, a gregarious burly man, requests a tune. A guitar is procured, a chair is placed in the centre of the room, and Manana (stage actress Ia Shugliashvili) is pushed to perform despite her protests. “You used to be my rose,” she sings, tears barely dry on her cheeks, “but now you are my grief.” The lyrics might be a touch on the nose, but Shugliashvili’s performance is so arresting. The inscrutability that has come to define Manana for the preceding hour threatens to slip away in front of a crowd, but she keeps her eyes down, her fingers moving with technical precision, her voice melodic yet emotionless.