‘Beginning’ Review: A Woman Seeks Peace Amid Persecution in This Astonishing Debut

At the midpoint of her astounding first feature “Beginning,” Georgian writer-director Dea Kulumbegashvili pulls off a brazen formalist coup that will either envelop you entirely in its world or freeze you out for good.

On a glimmering autumn afternoon, put-together mother Yana (Ia Sukhitashvili) goes strolling with her pre-teen son Giorgi (Saba Gogichaishvili) in local woodlands, pausing at a leaf-carpeted clearing, where ringing birdsong and insect chatter fuse into a kind of white noise.

Carefully, she lies down and closes her eyes.

For six minutes, across one unbroken, tightly framed shot, we watch her rest, playing dead when her son tries to rouse her; eventually, the soundtrack of nature is subsumed by the quiet of her mind, briefly at peace.“Beginning” contains more jolting provocations on either side of this pristine long take, but none quite so breathtaking.

Some may dismiss it as an indulgent stunt, but viewers receptive to

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