Synopsis by Mark Deming
A family is forced into deception for the sake of their matriarch in this poignant drama. Three generations of women share a tiny apartment in Tbilisi, a Georgia city that has been devastated by war, political instability, and a ruined economy. Eka (Esther Gorintin) is an elderly woman whose health is failing, but her will remains strong and she holds sway over the household. Eka's daughter, Marina (Nino Khomassouridze), is a middle-aged woman who is still dealing with the devastating circumstances of her childhood and the death of her husband. And Marina's daughter, Ada (Dinara Droukarova), is a college student who feels trapped by her circumstances and abraded by her lack of privacy; she has a lover, but since she must share a bed with her mother, they can only make love in his car. The light of Eka's life is her son, Otar, who has fled Tbilisi and lives in Paris. Otar writes frequently and sends money as often as he can, and while Marina resents her mother's obvious favoritism toward her brother, she and Ada realize how important his letters are to her. While Eka is visiting friends, Marina and Ada receive devastating news -- Otar has died in Paris, and since he wasn't carrying his visa when his body was found, he's been buried in an unmarked pauper's grave. Afraid this news would be a severe blow to Eka's poor health, Marina doesn't tell her mother what has happened, and Ada begins writing letters as Otar to maintain the illusion that he's alive. The ruse works well enough until Eka announces she's raised enough money by selling her possessions to visit her son in France. Depuis Qu'Otar Est Parti... (aka Since Otar Left) is the first feature film from director Julie Bertuccelli; it received an enthusiastic reception when it was screened at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.
death, deception, family, Georgia [USSR], letter, lover, widow/widower