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The Legacy
UKScreen Rating:

The Legacy – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Three young French people (Testud, Merhar and Legrand) head to the eastern European state of Georgia, to visit the remote castle one of them has been left in a will.
Arriving in the capital, they hire a translator (Bongard), who takes them deep into the middle of nowhere to find the legacy.
Most of the journey is taken by bus – an old, rickety vehicle that looks like it could collapse at any moment. Each time it stops, along its dusty route, a surreal array of fellow passengers board the bus – some try to socialise, others keep themselves to themselves.
Among others, there’s an imposing mute, whose Santa-sack contains all the goodies he needs to bargain and barter his way to whatever he needs. Then there’s the young man (Babluani) who boards the bus with his elderly grandfather (Gaparidze) – and an empty coffin – measured up for the older man, who’s on his way to fulfil his own destiny.
The tourists decide to jump off the bus and follow the old man to document the peace offering being made to end a blood feud between two rival clans.
But in time-honoured movie-fashion, things don’t go to plan.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

There’s no doubt that this is an interesting film, that provides a fascinating and frightening insight into a culture most people would never have imagined before.
Who knows if this kind of behaviour is typical of Georgian peasants or whether it’s been trumped up for the film, but like this directing family’s previous film, Tzameti 13, an intriguing journey builds up to an unexpectedly violent denouement that changes the lives of those involved beyond recognition.
But this film is less successful, not least because our main characters – the French legacy-seekers and their Georgian interpreter – are not protagonists in the story at its heart – they’re simply voyeurs. Like us, they are watching and learning as the events unfold before them – and while their actions do have consequences, the experience doesn’t really change their outlook on the world. The French friends go about their business while their interpreter just moves on to his next job.
It’s a little disingenuous to set up a film about a group of tourists exploring a new country in order to seek their inheritance – or indeed a film about an translator and guide who leads a group of foreigners to their legacy – but to end up delivering a platform to describe an admittedly frightening tribal custom, using the characters we’ve just spent the past hour getting to know as little more than our eyes.
Giving them a video camera, the film-makers aren’t even trying to hide the fact that we’re not meant to be watching the foreigners – but watching WITH the foreigners. The low budget adds to this feeling, which ultimately makes the film emotionally unsatisfying.

opens 14th September 2007

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