MHHFF ’15: Landmine Goes Click (Levan Bakhia)

by Jason Suzuki

Tourism boards in the movies should be wary of American tourists, as it seems whenever they visit a country crazy shit will ensue, either caused by the Americans themselves or the reaction some citizens might have at the sight of them. Three American tourists are visiting Georgia days before the wedding of two of them: Alicia (Detention’s Spencer Locke) and Daniel (Dean Geyer). The third wheel is Chris (Sterling Knight) who is dealing with his affection for Alicia that was mutually enacted upon before the trip. Like Buried, Bakhia’s film introduces a narrative constraint with the landmine, the majority of the film’s narrative plays out in proximity to Chris who has had to find out the hard way the sound a landmine makes. The landmine section begins adding an interesting heightened layer of dramatic tension to the love triangle the movie started with. And when that triangle has reached its conclusion the film eventually introduces a hiker, Ilya (Kote Tolordava), who will turn out to be more omen than godsend as if he walked off the set of the Georgian remake of Funny Games.

Landmine Goes Click is a movie that will surprise you. It is a movie that will at first do everything in its power to upset you, then when you think it’s going to give some (deserved) crowd-pleasing catharsis, makes a somber decision that proves to be more haunting and powerful than you would expect, and will stick with you longer than the trash entertainment film its title suggests. Knowing that the film will upset you won’t stop it from being upsetting but knowing where the film takes such a simple conceit might. It is very enjoyable to endure the increasingly uncomfortable series of events, which the film lets escalate in real time, not giving us any reprieve through the use of a cut forward

The film is extremely confidant in its actors as the camera is allowed to move through a space, not always having to focus on all characters at once. Cutting doesn’t always help and this movie knows that. Reactions and interactions are benefited by lack of coverage, the actors allowed to play through a scene, stopping and starting would have hurt the tension everyone involved was able to tap into. The landmine aspect (and its reasoning for being there) might be a tad implausible but you would never realize it as the cast sells the situation and their reactions so well. We might wonder why Alicia doesn’t attack Ilya with her shovel when he starts to antagonize her rescue effort, but then we see she’s a twig compared to him. Anything you might think as to “Why don’t they just do…” is answered by the film. Landmine Goes Click is a well-executed and thoughtful piece of ugly cinema.

Jason Suzuki is co-editor to Cinema Adrift.