Keep Smiling is a drama comedy from writer-director Rusudan Chkonia. It is one of the Foreign Language contender in this year’s Oscar Award. It is about ten desperate housewives who enter a beauty contest in the hopes of getting a prized apartment as well as $25,000.
The housewives find themselves the subject of media frenzy as they have to deal with chauvinist pigs and their own domestic problems. Keep Smiling first premiered in Venice Days and won top prize at the 34th Cinemed festival. It will continue touring fests with a possible TV and Euro theatrical run.
Keep Smiling takes a shot at the pageant-driven reality shows. It places the contestants into a narrative about females coping with failed marriages and broken homes. It takes place in Tbilisi, a city that has dilapidated Soviet housing with hungry refugees and boozing husbands.
The contest is Georgia Mother 2010. There is three weeks left before the pageant and the title is sought by ten contestants. Most of them are single mothers living in one-room apartments and a minimum of three children.
Some of the contestants are a failed violist Gvantsa (Iamze Sukhitsashvili), her thick-headed neighbor (Nana Shonia), a perma-tanned beauty who is married to one of the pageant’s organizers (Shorena Begashvili), and an immigrant living in a hospital ward (Olga Babluani). There are several comical scenes involving the beauty queens including one with the moms practicing their dance to the tune of Lou Bega’s Baby Keep Smiling. But it goes toward a more dramatic theme as it becomes clear that the mother’s lives depend on the result of the pageant.
Family tragedies and other socio-economic problems become relevant and Keep Smiling turns from a night of glamor to a blood-filled catastrophe. Director Chkonia manages to direct the cast members well. Special mention goes to Sukhitsashvili.