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  Legacy, The Everybody Hates A Tourist
Year: 2006
Director: Géla Babluani, Temur Babluani
Stars: Sylvie Testud, Stanislas Merhar, Olga Legrand, Pascal Bongard, George Babluani, Leo Gaparidze, Augustin Legrand
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Nikolai (Pascal Bongard) has just had a lucky escape. A French translator working in Georgia, the crooked charity that hired him has dissolved, leaving him the only member of staff around to face the music when the gangsters emerge from the woodwork wanting their money. But they let him go, realising there's nothing he can tell them, so he goes immediately to the small town's hotel where three French tourists are interested in utilising his services for the week. He needs the money, but has reservations, although not as many as he has once they embark on their cross country journey...

Not to be confused with the Katharine Ross horror of the seventies (the original title was L'Héritage), this was writer and director Géla Babluani's follow up to 13 Tzameti, and co-directed with his father, Temur Babluani. Like that film, there's a sense of the characters, specifically the tourists, being abroad in a strange land whose customs they can only guess at, but unlike it the style is so matter of fact, almost a travelogue, that the viewer would be hard pressed to find much in the way of tension contained herein.

There's a hostility in the script towards the outsider and the Babluanis, being of Georgian extraction, come across as very much insiders for the duration. The film is strong on its local colour, but for those not in the know, well, not Georgian basically, it can be an alienating experience as most audiences would be in the position of the tourists and they are dropped into a situation way over their heads, partly down to their own fault, to be fair. When we see they are keen on filming everything on their video camera, they seem to be living down to the sightseers' clichés.

They are meant to be in the country because one of them (Sylvie Testud), as they find out when Nikolai helpfully translates, has inherited a castle in the region and their travels are intended to take them there. However, the locals see to it that they are generally distracted, initially by the ne'erdowells who steal that blasted camera. To get it back, they have to haggle with "businessmen" in the town over the price, no matter their protests, and a fight ensues: but they get two cameras out of it, never mind their bruises.

Once on the road, they have opted to take the bus, and this gives the filmmakers yet another chance to fill in the time with those crazy Georgians, or their view of them at any rate. There's a singing drunk who is bundled off the vehicle by the authorities, a mute looking for a bargain who might not be as mute as he lets on, and an odd couple, an old man and his grandson who clamber aboard carrying a coffin. As the day drags on, the tourists find out these two are headed to a rendez-vous where the old man is to be murdered for obscure tribal reasons, and the tourists make the mistake of tagging along to film the results. As I say, this could have been a nailbiting exercise in suspense, but it's more like a dip into the eccentricities of the area that leaves far less impact than it should. It's too short to drag, but there is a feeling of "Oh, was that it?" by the end.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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