Since Otar Left is the best French film I have seen in ages. This may be in part because it is set and stars predominantly Georgians. Or it might be because it is the debut feature of Julie Bertucelli whose previous gigs have been Assistant Directing on the Three Colours trilogy. What was possibly learnt from Krzysztof Kieslowski was how to shoot sympathetic character studies without ever removing the natural humour or drama of a situation.

Otar is a Georgian medical graduate who has moved to France (somewhat illegally one gathers) for work. The family back home in Georgia dote on his letter and calls, especially his very old mother. Then Otar dies, and his siter and niece decide to keep this from the ailing old woman. Thus farce should ensue. It rarely does. Instead we see the complexity in the relationships between these three women, love, annoyance and hate. And slowly, via the medium of knowing them we get to know Tblisi, Georgia and the world of the the ex-Soviet states.

In theme the film resembles Goodbye Lenin!, but this does not turn into a frenetic farce. The period detail of GL is replaced here by a fifteen year on disillusionment, a disillusionment with capitalism which nevertheless hides no real sentimentality for communism. Instead the suggestion is about looking to the future, and if that future is about illegal immigration, or getting what you can in the world then so be it. That is the capitalist way.

A nice companion to a film like Dirty, Pretty Things, this looks at the dangers of a clandistine life in its final third, and convinces us of its necessity. As a plea for tolerance and understanding it is compellingly understated. More importantly it asks the question about those little white lies: who exactly are we trying to protect in our family when we tell them. Odds on, ourselves.