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What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? Review | NYFF 2021

What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? is an ode to love at first sight; the moment you close your eyes and open them back again, the film takes over you. It’s a sensory experience with magical realism that’s both, in a sense, familiar and unique. 

This is a story about two strangers: footballer Giorgi and pharmacist Lisa. They had three random encounters within minutes of each other because they forgot their paths. Viewing it as a lucky concurrence, they decide to meet the next day at the local cafe. However, their meeting might not occur as something happens along the way. Both Giorgi and Lisa are victims of the curse of the evil eye, and it changes their appearances. 

It is divided into two parts, each depicting a different phase of the love story we are seeing. The first one focuses more on the atmosphere around you when you find yourself lost without something to love. Even if this arc brings the saddest moments, it has remarkable illusory incantations because of the spell that has been cast onto the two leads. Once you go to sleep, you will not look like you used to; the film gives us instructions and signals for when to close our eyes and open them back again, to get more immersed in the story’s realism. Once you open them back again, you see that the spell has indeed been cast. 

The second part dwells more on the topic of self-realization, an admittance that hope can kill you, but you still need enough of it to make get through the toughest of days. Both Lisa and Giorgi think about the day they met. Even if days, weeks or months, weeks, or days passed, they still wonder, “will he/she ever come back for me?” “Maybe next time, we don’t leave it to chance?” were some of the first words they spoke to each other. It’s love at first sight… Who wouldn’t hold on to that moment forever? The ardent reflections in their eyes tell it all. 

Guided by a narrator who tells the inner notions of the lead characters. The man already knows the whole tale and how it ends; he is like a parent reading a fairytale to their son. However, one aspect of it differs from other well-grounded romance fables: it doesn’t have much dialogue. It ends up feeling like a silent film, yet it has the necessary amount to make us feel entirely enchanted by it all. The tones from the throbbing piano keys, the angelic harp strings, and the sounds of the flowing river all blend in harmony to create an aural escapade. 

It’s not about what you see when looking at the sky because beauty doesn’t linger up there as much as what is in front of you. Instead, the film focuses on what we miss because we wait patiently for hope to send us a signal when looking upwards, dreaming about what may be instead of living our current reality. What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? carefully crafts a magical essence of living in the now with a nice rhythm and direction by Koberidze. It does have a pretty long runtime, albeit, with patience, you get a special and unique treat that encapsulates the feeling of falling in love. 


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By Hector Gonzalez

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