Recently, a young director Marija Kavtaradzė has released a romantic drama Slow in Lithuania, it was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the largest festival of independent cinema in the United States of America. The film was acclaimed and won the Best Director award and has also toured to other renowned foreign film festivals. In addition to directing the film, M. Kavtaradzė also wrote the screenplay, which she claims took her 3 weeks to complete, but only after 2 years of corrections and adjustments she got to the final script. This is her second film as a director, her directorial debut film was Summer Survivors, which premiered in 2018.
One of the main roles is played by Greta Grinevičiūtė (Elena), a contemporary dance performer and creator, who also performs in the plays of young theater artists. The role of Dovydas was played by actor Kęstutis Cicėnas, who took about 5 months to learn sign language. However, other famous Lithuanian and foreign actors and dancers were also present in the film: Rimantė Valiukaitė, Dominykas Vaitiekūnas, Pau Cólera, Isabel Naveira, Mantas Stabačinskas and others.
It’s not your average romantic drama, here, telling an intimate love story that starts in a very ordinary way, but develops in a completely unusual manner. Elena, a dance teacher, and Dovydas, a sign language interpreter, meet during one of their classes. The main “tool” of both protagonists is the body. As in many romantic films, the initial friendship develops into admiration and feelings. This is the beginning of a relationship between two completely different personalities: Elena, before she met Dovydas, had a free-spirited sexual life, while Dovydas is the complete opposite of her; he has no desire for sex and is asexual. Despite their differences, they decide to continue working on their relationship. The main message that the film sends is that for people in a relationship, it can be much more important to have an emotional connection than a physical one. The action in the film develops slowly, but gradually, allowing the viewer to become more deeply involved in each character’s experiences, leaving room for reflection on how things will continue. It forces everyone to put themselves in the shoes of others and to think about how each of them would behave in such a situation. Therefore, you could say that the point of this film is not the action itself, but how it happens and how each of the characters is able to react and feel, what decisions they make and what actions they take, and that gives it meaning.
Before the premiere of the film, the director of the romantic drama opened up about what she wanted to convey in the film: “Love is a broad topic, and with this film, I wanted to explore our ideas and attitudes about how love and relationships are supposed to develop. For me, this film is about relationships and stories that don’t necessarily fit into a framework and our expectations or the expectations of others. We often don’t know the other person’s expectations either, we just try to imagine them for ourselves. Then we see how hard it is to let that love in, when we have so many ideals in our heads.” Kavtaradzė added that everyone can find a part of themselves or their loved one in this film, because everyone perceives love in a different way: “The film is also about different physical needs. It’s about different types of needs and how they can affect our relationships with other people and even our relationship with our own bodies. And also, about expectations of romance, gender roles or the need to be fulfilled through passion and sex. Above all, the film is about self-acceptance and honesty with oneself and others.”
It’s important to mention that although the film has already received recognition not only at film festivals abroad, but it’s also Lithuania’s contender for the Oscar, and has been selected by the European Film Academy as one of the shortlisted entries in the European Film Awards nominations.
The soundtrack was a major highlight of the film, perfectly adapted to emphasize the mood and feelings of the characters. The soundtrack was composed by Swedish artists and composers who have composed soundtracks for a number of award-winning films, such as Martin Hederos and Irya Gmeyner, better known as April Snow. The duo composed the songs “We Fucked It Up”, “One Step Forward One Step Back” and “Higher” for this film, that captivated audiences. The soundtrack of the film also features Lithuanian music, including Monika Liu’s song “Troškimas”, released five years ago. After the premiere of the film, the singer said that she had no hesitation in accepting the director’s offer and choice: “I feel as if after five years the song has finally found its place in the material world. Marija’s performance showed what I really had in my head and in my heart – the feeling I had when I was creating it was very similar to what the characters in the film were experiencing. It was amazing to see it performed in sign language, by the hands of Kęstutis Cicėnas, it was a total wow effect.” In addition, the song “Klausyk, mieloji” arranged by Teisutis Makūnas and performed by the rock band shishi. The trio of girls not only starred in this romantic drama, but also presented a video dedicated to this song and the film.
Slow has captivated audiences and film critics alike, and while it is somewhat uncharacteristic of romantic films, it does touch on the theme of asexuality, which many people still think is under-discussed, and the extent to which it can be said using body language.