Sure, the heart wants what it wants, but Marija Kavtaradze’s drama, Slow, is also concerned with what the body is seeking. Our physical selves crave, ache, and lust as much as our minds do, but there can be obstacles that stand in the way of achieving what it desires. Slow is a tender romance about the importance of communication and how we think we need to sacrifice something major in order to be happy.
Elena and Dovydas (Greta Grinevičiūtė and Kęstutis Cicėnas) meet when he is assigned to interpret her modern dance class with sign language. Since they both use their bodies in order to communicate and express themselves, the connection between them is almost immediate but not leaned on heavily. Elena might seem a tad more eager to explore this flirtation, and she is stumped when Dovydas admits that he is asexual. She quite literally laughs when he tells her.
As Elena and Dovydas lean into this relationship, they are cautious, but Dovydas offers honesty when she has a question. “I simply don’t need it,” he tells her when she asks about his lack of interest in sex, but Slow defies the expectation that individuals who identify as asexual do not like physical contact. They kiss, cuddle, and are very affectionate with one another. Elena, however, is vibrating with a need that Dovydas doesn’t think he can fulfill. In one scene, she initiates sexual contact and he slowly turns it back to pleasuring her, and, in another sequence, Elena dances in a rehearsal with a hidden primal desire as if she is afraid to let it out. The film is incredibly sensual.
Grinevičiūtė and Cicėnas flirt, bicker, and caress with joyful ease. When Elena receives affection, Grinevičiūtė’s face lights up, a smile curling across her face, and she throws her entire body into this performance. When Elena is dancing, her hair will sometimes stroke across her face, and we witness how she feels the most comfortable when she is using her body. There is a slight sadness in Cicėnas’ Dovydas, but he keeps his cards close to his chest. Perhaps he has been hurt too many times before or Dovydas is worried someone he truly cares for will refuse to understand. They are a couple that you long to be when you see them being playful at a packed party.
Kavtaradze honors the characters’ connection rather than their differences, and neither Elena or Dovydas want to make the other uncomfortable. A lot of people strive to get to that satiated, lived-in era of a relationship where you can “just be” and not worry about what the other is thinking or the games they might play. Slow brilliantly examines the void left by not having sex.
Can you take the love you have for someone to the next level without that afterglow of consummation? Can you be satisfied without satisfaction? Slow is emotionally lush and worth waiting for.