Written by Alexander Reams
As someone who grew up in a Christian household, and who still holds the religion and is a practicing member, I understand the want for that sense of community, and there is much division among religions. Even within religions with different denominations, there are major differences. Among most religions, there is one commonality, the belief in a holy being. One of the most infamous and controversial ones is the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, or more commonly known as Jehovah’s Witness. Who believe that the person Christians call Messiah was just a prophet, a metaphor that Dea Kulumbegashvili’s disturbing debut, Beginning, sets out to question. Set in a sleepy town, a community’s religion is under attack by an extremist group. To further the conflict, a woman within this religion is sexually assaulted by a detective investigating the attacks. Beginning not only questions if there is a God, but if there is why would he let this happen.
The performance by Ia Sukhitashvili is disturbing and also heartbreaking, to see this woman unravel in a truly horrific fashion is electric in all the right ways. I could not take my eyes off of her for the (admittedly long) runtime. However, it does outstay its welcome at points and begins to drag heavily. These points are also combined with choppy editing and supporting performances that don’t even begin to match up with the brilliance of Sukhitashvili. The seemingly shows that Kulumbegashvili’s belief is that if there was a God, they wouldn’t let this happen, especially to one of their followers. When you invest time into a longer film you want there to be some semblance of a reason for you to have invested your time, and partly, there is, Though it doesn’t hold up in totality and left me wondering up until the final shot if the time I’d sunk in was worth it. It was.
Beginning is streaming on Mubi.
You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.