ND/NF 2015: Line of Credit
The financial crisis that struck several short years ago feels like a thing of the past, despite the several sectors still recovering. And despite the continued recovery, movies and TV have steered well clear of the territory for the most part, with some notable exceptions (the excellent Margin Call, the upcoming 99 Homes, and several documentaries). Even fewer of these films focus in on a single family during their struggles. All of this makes the Georgian film, Line Of Credit, all the more surprising.
The film centers around Nino (Nino Kasradze), a woman in her 40s trying her best to keep her family afloat. Decades ago her father provided for the family by doing some shady deals with Russia. Now, the cafe below their massive apartment is a ghost town, the money for the children’s private school tuition is nearly tapped, and Nino has knotted herself into a complex hurricane of debt. Week by week she calls on friends for loans, pawns jewelry, and sells everything she can get her hands on, all while trying to keep up the illusion of comfort and stability, urging everyone she borrows from to keep the matters hush-hush.
It’s easy to forget that the rest of the world was hit just as hard, if not harder, by the financial crisis. And while Line Of Credit, writer/director Salome Alexi’s debut feature, serves as a reminder, it unfortunately does little else. The plot is both wildly intricate and exceptionally dull in its narrative trajectory. To pay for a party, Nino pawns a ring. To keep the gas turned on, she borrows from a friend. To get the ring back she sells a tea set. And so goes the movie. Everyone is willing to loan Nino whatever she needs. Some friends go so far as to take out massive loans in their own name for her. This ease with which Nino passes through the world serves to keep the conflict to a lazy-Sunday-morning minimum. And not once do we get to see her doing anything else. Nino is either borrowing or being asked to repay. Simple as that.
But while the film becomes predictable from a mile off, the 84 minute run time keeps it manageable. That, and the beautiful cinematography. Shot by Jean-Louis Padis, Line Of Credit is thick with matte pastels and gorgeously framed shots of the small Georgian town. But while it looks beautiful, the camera never moves and claustrophobia sets in, sucking the life from many scenes–especially those few where Nino is allowed a good time, keeping us glued in place a mile away.
Line Of Credit is a harmless film about a very important and overlooked subject—roughly 14% of Georgian families lost their houses to the mortgage crisis—but it could use something, anything aside of a payout or a payment.