Saturday, May 18, 2024


THE STORY – Elena is a contemporary dancer whose bond with Dovydas deepens from platonic to romantic. When Dovydas discloses his asexuality, the couple commit themselves to honouring their individual needs in tandem.

THE CAST – Greta Grinevičiūtė, Kęstutis Cicėnas, Pijus Ganusauskas & Laima Akstinaitė

THE TEAM – Marija Kavtaradzė (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 108 Minutes

Elena (Greta Grinevičiūtė) hasn’t had much luck with men. In the opening scene of “Slow,” Marija Kavtaradzė’s achingly tender romance, she hooks up with someone who wants – nay, needs – her to say, “I love you” so that he can get it up. If she had her way, she’d probably be done with men, but then into her dance studio walks Dovydas (Kęstutis Cicėnas), a sign language interpreter for a group of kids learning about movement from and creating a performance piece with Elena. Tall, handsome, and charming, Dovydas breaks through Elena’s defenses as they start falling for each other. The problem? Dovydas is asexual. He’s never felt sexual attraction for another person and never will. Can Elena, as a dancer who is so deeply in touch with her body and all things sensual, deal with having a romantic partner who is entirely uninterested in sexual activity? How many times can Dovydas explain his feelings before it becomes too much?

The drama at the center of “Slow” isn’t a common one to see onscreen, but it’s more common in bedrooms around the world. While asexuals are estimated to comprise around 1% of the world’s population, there hasn’t been a film that put them front and center until now. Kavtaradzė takes great care with Dovydas’s character, allowing him space to explain himself without treating him as an overgrown child or someone who doesn’t know their own mind. The film treats his asexuality as an extension of the fundamental difference between the characters; Elena communicates through her body, through touch and movement, while Dovydas communicates with words, and usually someone else’s words. Dovydas may use his body to communicate with sign language, but his focus is on the words. Similarly, Elena must use her words every once in a while, but she’s most comfortable using her body.

Grinevičiūtė and Cicėnas are perfect scene partners, opening up to each other in endearing ways. Yes, they exchange delightful banter and have chemistry as spicy as it is sweet, but how they listen to each other captivates (and proves more important later on, as their relationship puts them to the test). Kavtaradzė emphasizes the intimate connection the two share by often framing them in tight closeup, capturing that unmistakable look in their eyes that only comes from two people who can see each other’s souls. The film does an excellent job of explaining without words the fact that “asexual” does not necessarily mean “aromantic” (it can, but that’s not how Dovydas is). The palpable connection between Elena and Dovydas goes beyond sexual attraction, leaving the drama to come from the two of them navigating how to give and receive love in a way that meets both of their needs. It’s a much more mature examination of a relationship than many films, and all the better for it.

Kavtaradzė stays perfectly attuned to her performers throughout, with cinematographer Laurynas Bareisa’s nimble camera swiftly moving in close to heighten the sensuality building between Elena and Dovydas. Closeups of bodies in motion lend the film a tactility that brings us closer to the characters, both physically and emotionally. She also never forgets that film is an aural medium, as well as a visual one, utilizing the understated score by Irya Gmeyner and Martin Hederos – a collection of plinking piano keys, dreamy synths, and vocalized breathing – sparingly, letting it linger in the back of the mix to add just the right hint of sweetness.

After exploring seemingly every angle of this relationship, “Slow” carefully builds to a devastating climax that strikes the perfect balance of sweetness and sadness, one that leaves things open to interpretation while still coming to a satisfying conclusion. Unfortunately, Kavtaradzė lets the film continue for one scene past this perfect ending. It’s the one misstep the writer-director takes during the whole film, making the fact that it comes right at the end especially upsetting. After nearly two hours of steadily increasing emotional investment in these two people, the film’s final scene feels like a grave misjudgment, overly cutesy in a way the film never approaches elsewhere. Ending the film this way may leave a sour taste, but at least the rest of “Slow” is more warm, humane, and charming than most.

This is the year’s first great romance, and one scene can’t ruin that, even if it is the last piece of the film you’ll see. “Slow” proves that patience is indeed a virtue as we live and learn alongside these characters. As Elena and Dovydas move towards a deeper understanding of each other and themselves, Kavtaradzė encourages the audience to do the same. In so doing, she has created a film of uncommon, understated power.


THE GOOD - Sensitive performances from leads with incredible chemistry drive this beautifully-judged atypical romance…

THE BAD - …until it reaches a perfect ending that goes one scene too long, muddying its meaning.



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Dan Bayer
Dan Bayer
Performer since birth, tap dancer since the age of 10. Life-long book, film and theatre lover.

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Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>Sensitive performances from leads with incredible chemistry drive this beautifully-judged atypical romance…<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>…until it reaches a perfect ending that goes one scene too long, muddying its meaning.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>8/10<br><br>"SLOW"