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Film Review: Brighton 4th
by Karen Pecota

Georgian filmmaker and journalist Levan Koguashvili brings to the silver screen his latest feature narrative Brighton 4th, a gripping story of a father-son relationship within a Russian-speaking community located in the Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Brighton Beach. True to life, the residents are mostly immigrants from the former USSR. Koguashvili uses professional actors, but the cast is largely comprised of Russian-speaking non-professionals who live and work in Brighton Beach. The cinematography is of real locations in the area.

Koguashvili explains, "The film is about Georgians whose behavior, mentality, songs, and tragicomedy are a mixture of Georgian and New York cultures." Adding, "Many are unable to adjust to 'real America' to learn English and so they stay forever in the familiar Russian world of the neighborhood." Continuing, "One wants to start a new life, but can't get rid of the past. In a sense, for many, America (the land of opportunity) begins in Brighton Beach and ends in Brighton Beach because they can't leave this place." Noting, "It's a place where one can easily survive without speaking English. Postings around the area are in Russian. The languages most commonly spoken in the Brighton Beach streets are Russian, Georgian, or Armenian."


Former wrestling champion Kakhi (Levan Tediashvili, himself a former Olympic wrestling champion) goes to visit his son Soso (Giorgi Tabidze) who came to America some years earlier. Soso lives in a Russian-speaking neighborhood of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, New York.

Soso's intent was to continue his studies to pass medical exams in order to become an American Doctor. Kakhi is a proud father regarding Soso's desire to pursue the medical field.

Upon Kakhi's arrival in New York, he discovers that Soso's choices in life haven't turned out to be what he expected. Kakhi is surprised that his son is living in a boarding house and working for a moving company instead of pursuing his studies. Soso confesses that he has a gambling debt of $14,000.00, that is owed to a local mob boss. The debt is due in a few days. To make matters worse, Soso needs money to arrange a fake marriage with a social worker, Lena (Nadezhda Mikhalkova) to get his U.S. green card.

Heartbroken to see his son in such jeopardy Kakhi gives Soso his savings of $2,000. Instead of using the money for the green card option, Soso inquiries of the mob boss if his debt could be released with the payment of the cash Kakhi gives him. Not surprisingly, the request is rejected.

Lucky for Soso, a seat at the gambling table opens up for him to try and win more than he lays down, but sadly he loses it all. Disappointed to have to bail Soso out of a very bad situation, Kakhi challenges the mob boss (a well-known wrestler half his age) to a wrestling match on the grounds that if Kakhi wins, Soso's debt is forgiven. The mob boss agrees with delight. He knows that this challenge is of no match. But, then again, for whom? Soso's fate will now be determined down at the beach.