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#Sundance2023 Review: Slow

January 22, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Slow, a very good drama from Lithuanian writer-director Marija Kavtaradze, begins with what feels like it could be a classic meet-cute. Elena (Greta Grineviciute) is a contemporary dancer hopping between sexual partners, and Dovydas (Kestutis Cicenas) is a sign language interpreter. They meet when she is teaching a class for Deaf teens, and he comes to translate. The two start spending more time together, and Elena expresses interest in him to her friends. But she is naturally promiscuous, and he soon informs her that he is asexual.

While Dovydas explains to her that he doesn’t desire people sexually, he is still interested in having a relationship, and they tentatively start to pursue one. What works so well about Slow is that Kavtaradze allows the relationship between Elena and Dovydas to develop naturally and believably. The film unfolds as a classic romantic drama, but the character’s asexuality adds an interesting texture to it, as the two try to find a balance between their individual desires that allows them to be together. The totally naturalistic performances by Grineviciute and Cicenas keep us fully engaged.

The two leads share chemistry and tension together, a tender, deftly handled balance that is further complimented by the softness of the film’s 16mm cinematography. While Slow is largely presented from Elena’s perspective, Dovydas’s sexuality is handled in a respectful way, and not as something that he can or should change. At heart, Slow is mainly a film about what constitutes a “normal” relationship, and it’s both refreshing and interesting to see a romantic drama explored from this angle, as Kavtaradze builds to an emotionally resonant ending.

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 19th to 29th in Park City, Utah, with in-person and online screenings. More information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

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