TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Kakhi (Levan Tedaishvili) is a former Georgian wrestling champion (the country not, the state). Well past his prime, the aging athlete leads a simple life. That is until his son Soso (Giorgi Tabidze) racks up a 14,000 dollar gambling debt to a local mob boss. What sounds like the premise to a Liam Neeson action flick soon becomes the backdrop for a slow-burning character study in Brighton 4th.
Traveling to Brooklyn to help his son, Kakhi soon finds many immigrants from his home country face a similar problem. Whether it’s the mob, getting ripped off by employers, or just life as a refugee, money is always an issue. Kakhi takes odd jobs to help out, but as Soso’s gambling problem escalates, the future begins to look bleak. Facing the challenges of his son’s mistakes, Kakhi must finally decide if the champ has one more match in him.
“…as Soso’s gambling problem escalates…Kakhi must finally decide if the champ has one more match in him.”
Brighton 4th, directed by Levan Koguashvili and written by Boris Frumin, contains a magnificent performance by Levan Tedaishivili. He is an actual former Olympic wrestler, and his performance as an aging titan of the sport is grounded in realism. His subtle and stoic approach to Kakhi is the moving force of the film. Koguashvili’s direction compliments the lead actor’s performance capturing an immigrant experience in a universal format. The screenplay allows characters to reveal themselves organically and gives room for the story to grow naturally.
Brighton 4th is a slow burn in every sense of the word, with the introduction alone taking fifteen minutes. Being measured is not a negative per-say, especially when that time is devoted to building characters in a drama. However, the film does have issues distinguishing the forest from the trees. There are scenes that are vital to the characterizations or forwarding the plot. Others, lovely as they might look, just seem to be filler. The climax is moving but, some expanded foreshadowing could have heightened the tension and made the scene phenomenal.
Brighton 4th has some issues, but it is still a compelling watch from a part of the world that needs more exposure in the film industry. The story, centering around family, culture, and identity, comes from a unique perspective. Some sub-plots go unaddressed, yet Tedaishivili’s excellent performance always brings you back with the worn gaze of a battle-weary wrestler. If you are a fan of world cinema, the film is certainly worth watching, especially if you are interested in a truly compelling drama.
Brighton 4th screened at the 2021 Tribeca Festival.
"…a compelling watch from a part of the world that needs more exposure..."