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Spin a Yawn

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Faraz Fesharaki/DFFB

MOVIE REVIEW
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (2021)

“What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?” is a modern fable set in the nation of Georgia. There’s allegedly magic in the air per the voiceover narrator, though it’s his narration that does the heavy lifting. We don’t get to witness much of the miraculous the way we do, say, in a Jacques Tati film.

We wouldn’t even know if it weren’t for the fact that Lisa (Oliko Barbakadze) and Giorgi (Giorgi Ambroladze), who agree to meet again after a chance encounter, are cursed – literally – and played by completely different actors (Ani Karseladze and Giorgi Bochorishvili, respectively) when they wake up the next day. Lisa and Giorgi are also no longer able to perform their jobs as a pharmacist and a soccer player, respectively. She operates a soft-serve ice cream machine, while he runs a makeshift fairground game at a park. Fate will indeed bring them together again, although they’ll be oblivious now that they are unrecognizable to each other.

Despite this once-upon-a-time storytelling approach, there’s little joy or whimsy in the proceedings. Writer-director Alexandre Koberidze doesn’t exhibit the same kind of imaginative charm or lighthearted playfulness displayed by Tati or Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Quite the opposite, in fact, and we feel the entirety of the film’s daunting two-and-a-half-hour runtime. Incidentally, “Playtime” is five minutes longer, and one hardly notices!

“What Do We See” is drab visually, and Giorgi Koberidze’s score does little to uplift. Sometimes Mr. Koberidze’s narrator launches into tangents, like ones involving stray dogs and where people gather and watch soccer matches on TV. These meanderings start to get a little tedious and grating before the film commences its second part an hour and 22 minutes in – the narrator is literally keeping scores of soccer matches as if he were commentating on ESPN. It’s only a matter of time before the film wears you down, and you stop caring if Lisa and/or Giorgi will return to their former selves and/or find each other again.

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