Courtesy MUBI

The second feature from Georgian writer-director Aleksandre Koberidze, this slow burner of anti-romantic romance and World Cup fervor is a film so soothing to look at that you can almost forgive it for being essentially two hours and 30 minutes of watching grass grow. Events such as soccer practice, close-ups of people’s sneakers as they have inaudible conversations, and the struggle of a Tbilisian cafe proprietor to get his projector working in time for the big match, take place. There is a love story involving Lisa (Oliko Barbakadze) and Giorgi (Giorgi Ambroladze), who hit the all-too-common relationship snag of a magical-realist spell that transforms them into other actors with the same names (the new Giorgi, magnificently, is also played by an actor whose real name is Giorgi). This, too, happens. Things are happening so much (especially now). It’s a pity they have so little to do with one another.

But with landscapes this serene, a score by Giorgi (!) Koberidze this sweet, and 16 mm night shots of old men watching soccer this plentiful, you can’t help rooting for the damn thing. The general tenor of reviews, when this movie played the Berlin Film Festival and then NYFF earlier in the year, was one of extreme strain to justify its near-total disinterest in being a movie. There is a purity to its roughness, like something that should be released back into nature when you’re finished petting it. In one scene, the aforementioned wrestling match between Vakhtang Panchulidze and his projector, Panchulidze comes close to dropping it. Its light falls at random on a patio table, a Soviet realist bench ornament, a dog, and a tree. Perhaps, the film as a whole yearns to blend itself back into the randomness of life in much the same way. A disappointing, but sensuous, watch. In Georgian with subtitles. 150 min.

In select theaters from MUBI