The title of Levan Koguashvili’s promising debut feature, “Street Days,” is a reference to the difficult period in his native Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In his portrayal it’s a time of middle-aged men wandering the streets looking for drugs and angry women trying to keep the social fabric from completely unraveling.

Mr. Koguashvili’s desire to provide a snapshot of this post-Communist malaise gets in the way of his narrative. The film’s first half-hour is all setup, introducing us to Checkie (Guga Kotetishvili), a former man about Tbilisi turned heroin addict and small-time dealer, and the hangers-on, high school students and corrupt cops who all want to use him for their own ends.

Once the story kicks into gear it isn’t characterized by the dread, paranoia and ruthless violence we’ve come to expect in dramas from the former Soviet bloc. As the cops try to force Checkie to betray a friend’s son, and he searches for a way out of his predicament, the bleak tale takes one absurdly comic turn after another. A gun that is introduced early in the film is eventually fired, but the results are not what you’d expect.

Mr. Kotetishvili is marvelous as Checkie, permanently stunned that history has abandoned him, and Irakli Ramishvili provides able support as the young man. Mr. Koguashvili and his director of photography, Archil Akhvlediani, use the narrow streets and weathered buildings of Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, to great pictorial effect.