After a meet-cute and the promise to go out the following day, Lisa and Giorgi each go home thinking about the other, hopeful. However as they wake up the next morning, they both find themselves in new bodies. Not only do they look completely different, but they have also forgotten vital skills from their former lives: Giorgi is suddenly helpless at football and Lisa can no longer remember medical knowledge from school. Overnight, they are forced to start anew, find different jobs and make new connections in their old environment.
This Georgian Competition entry is a fairy tale that evokes faint feelings of a distant memory – is this one of those bedtime stories our parents told us? – and yet it is an utterly fresh narrative. Supporting characters include street dogs with names like Marzipan, who each have their favourite spot to watch football – one of them even cheers for the English national team during the World Cup.
Director Alexandre Koberidze experiments with various stylistic devices. In order to help with the transformation of the characters, for instance, he asks for the audience’s participation, instructing them to close their eyes to an audible signal and open them when it can be heard again. The fact that there are two actors per protagonist could have easily cluttered the piece. Instead, the apt minimalism in each performance works to create a delicate balance between the converging storylines. Of course, the film posits a certain suspension of disbelief, even within the realms of magical realism: their neighbours might ask for Lisa and Giorgi respectively, yet they are not suspicious when a complete stranger shows up in their homes and ominously replies, “Lisa/Giorgi is not here.”
In its entirety, What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? feels like the lovechild of a body swap rom-com and David Lynch’s Lost Highway, with elements of Arabian Nights.
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (Ras vkhedavt, rodesac cas vukurebt?) does not have a UK release date yet.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.