Five friends (representatives of the Fifties generation) now in their forties, get together after many years of silence. One shows up from jail, where he has been entering and exiting for ...
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The diary of the life and death of a group of "amoral" young people, who have reached the point of no return and seek something to believe in and to die for. Their behavior brings them to ... See full summary »
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Five friends (representatives of the Fifties generation) now in their forties, get together after many years of silence. One shows up from jail, where he has been entering and exiting for years, the other comes from a series of "accidental" murders, another leaves his wife and kids, the fourth one is a wonderer, and the last one, the girl of the gang, comes from a lunatic asylum where she has been hiding for years... All of them are outcasts, tortured from barren love affairs, wounded from the deaths of their beloved friends and betrayed by the politics of their times. They hopelessly try to reconstruct the gang of their puberty, but the revolution is lost... Now, each in his own way, will progress into a journey of death, thus opening a new chapter in the history of their generation. Written by
A dangerous generation of misfits that society thinks it crashed. Perhaps it would have succeeded, but this movie is here. The wretches are still singing.
Only lately did I begin to indulge in watching Nikolaidis's films and man, have I been missing out.
A fantastic second feature that bares a striking resemblance to The Big Chill, a great piece of work that would not come out for another 4 years. The premise is just about the same - the surviving members of a rebellious generation meet again after decades, reflecting on their old days, getting to live them once more. Haunted by lost people who may or may not have actually existed - people who are, in fact, the lost, long-dead generation, pushed aside and ran down by society over the dull, depressing years since the "wretches" parted.
The similarities, however, stop there. This film is much more cruel both to its characters and the viewer. Nikolaidis doesn't hold back any punches - the wretches were, and some still are, a gang of vicious criminals making it much more difficult for the average viewer to sympathize with them, but if you are open-minded in the least, don't expect not to. There is, like in every brilliantly written story, a bit of us in each of these characters and it's all given to us in ingenious bits of dialogue, one of the movie's (and, I'm coming to realize, the director's) greatest traits. Here, of course, also lies the reason this film never made it big outside Greece: viewers who don't speak the language are going to miss out on a lot of why Nikolaidis's cult following adores this film. But would I still recommend this movie even if you don't speak Greek? 100%. There's a lot more to it than the brilliant lines and with some decent subtitles you won't really miss out on the feeling of the movie - the excellent performances will help with that.
The cinematography is intentionally dull, an excellent choice of atmosphere, intriguing shots and very inspired editing. The sound is also much better than what I've come to expect from Greek movies of that era, having watched some fantastic Greek movies that were really hard to watch because of the dialogue being barely audible. Here, the dialogue is crystal-clear, surprisingly without sacrificing its natural feel. The choice of music is absolutely excellent and takes over the spotlight at just the right places, also contributing to that "big chill" feel - the irony of seeing self-destructive people, depressive situations and then distracting both viewer and characters with some happy rock'n'roll for a feel of bittersweet nostalgia like no other.
Overall, "Kourelia" was much more than I expected it to be. I had been told to expect crazy, over-the-top situations, brilliant dialogue and an all-around solid movie, and I definitely got all that. But what I didn't expect was such a unique take on life, meaning or lack thereof, poetry and karma hidden under this rough, violent exterior, this bittersweet feeling of nostalgia, of seeing a take on where life can take you when you don't find love (notable, of course, that Nikolaidis, writer and director of the film, was, much like his works, a true romantic under his tough shell - he had been married for 9 years when he completed this film and he would continue to be until the end of his life, 28 years later).
And here comes the tough part. Epilogue and rating. I've tried and I've tried, but I simply can't rate art of this caliber on a simple numeric scale of 1-10. But isn't that, in itself, a reason to lean towards the top of the scale? I've decided to give it a 10, hoping it'll help with getting someone, somewhere intrigued. If it helps with getting even a little bit of exposure, if someone out there reads this review and decides to watch the film or check out the director, that's a success in my book.
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