Etero has had something of an epiphany. As she trudges back to her Only For You grocery store, she knows that she is a different woman. When the delivery man Murman walks in with his regular supply, Etero’s repressed desire takes flight.

Much else quietly changes for this 48-year-old woman who is fierce of face and fixed in routine. Etero is single by choice as well as circumstance. She loves her village and sees no reason to leave. She has made her peace with gossipy neighbours who never fail to remind her of her troubled past. And yet, something in the air pushes Etero into choices she would never have dreamed of making.

To the by-now formulaic tale of older women reinventing themselves, Georgian director Elene Naveriani brings gentle observation, a sense of mischief and a touch of the surreal. Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, Naveriani’s adaptation of Tamta Melashvili’s feminist novel of the same name, is an unhurried depiction of a middle-aged woman rediscovering herself.

Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry (2023) is out on MUBI. The movie’s palette pays tribute to the strictly richly colour-coded movies by Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki. Where Kaurismaki explored the lives of male oddballs, Naveriani follows Etero on a path that is necessarily lonely but free of the angst that characterises such journeys.

The pace is unhurried and measured, revealing the social milieu that lets Etero be even while reminding her of her outlier status. There is a mildly mannered quality to the scenes with Etero’s friends, suggesting social habits that have been formed out of sheer familiarity.

When alone or with Murman, Etero’s body language changes. Eka Chavleishvili delivers a terrific lead performance, unpredictable as well as affecting. Etero’s clandestine romance has the frisson of a forbidden teenage romance without the giddiness. Her final awakening is hers to savour – or regret. The movie lets you decide, while never leaving Etero’s resilience in doubt.

Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry (2023).

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