The "Edge of the City" means Menidi, a poor suburb on the edge of pulsating Athens (the city). Menidi harbours many Cosssack Greeks. They are also called "pontios", ethnic Greeks from the ... See full summary »
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Valda Z. Drabla,
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Kent S. Leung,
The "Edge of the City" means Menidi, a poor suburb on the edge of pulsating Athens (the city). Menidi harbours many Cosssack Greeks. They are also called "pontios", ethnic Greeks from the Black Sea dispersed through the ex-Southern Soviet Union in the Stalin era. The "pontios" have returned to Greece en masse after the demise of the USSR. The parents speak mostly Greek, but the teenage children speak a hybrid Russian-Greek language which reflects their lack of identity and marginalization in Greece's highly xenophobic society (the only EU country where no minorities exist!...officially). The teenagers' marginalization leads them to the core of the film's theme: the lives of petty crime and prostitution which these second or third class Greeks lead. Their camaraderie, the way they mock each others' dealing in homosexuality, their sexual and criminal exploitation by rich Greeks, their own exploitation of prostitutes, sexual and moral ambiguity all lead to the film's defining! Written by
Self-consciously hip Wasted-Youth genre piece, the usual downward spiral of sex, petty crime, and drugs, done much better, and less pretentiously, by innumerable American Black ghetto films, here set in and around Athens among a group of transplanted Pontic Kazakhstani teens. The lads hustle their bodies, flirt with but never openly embrace homosexuality, to pay for drugs, living from one score and wad of cash to the next. Of course, the film exacts retribution so that a bad end awaits all, either in the form of arrest, severe injury, or death.
The film succumbs to the pointlessness of its subject matter; there's nothing particularly profound, compelling, or even remotely sympathetic about its cast of bored, directionless, and none-too-bright loafers who do nothing but selfishly chase after money and pleasure, unscrupulously screwing each other over to fulfill the pettiest of desires. There are no big dreams, no big hearts, nothing much gained or lost.
The film tries to make up for lack of content with self-conscious flourishes of style, relying heavy-handedly on a trendy soundtrack of techno-house and dilute hip-hop, fast-forwarding the frame rate, fooling around with aperture settings, conducting mock interviews with the main protagonist for a pseudodocumentary effect, and even at one point resorting to a totally gratuitous quote from Goddard's Contempt.
It seems Europeans are now fashioning their version of a very old American genre, the lower-class-self-destruct-coming-of-age story. Except for the empty stylistic intrusions, there is hardly any difference between this movie and Erick Zonka's Le Petit Voleur (The Little Thief, '99). By an odd coincidence--talk about unoriginality--the wayward boys of both find their first criminal employment by baby-sitting a whore, both even going so far as to disastrously double-cross their pimp bosses.
Not that the Americans aren't busy recycling this same old trash: try Requiem for a Dream.
It seems a huge rift has opened up in film between mainstream morality, on the one hand, and underworld noirish voyeurism, on the other. One can either go see a squeaky-clean, soft-core, Cellophane-wrapped, light-hearted goodie like Charlie's Angels, or a dark, damaged, doomed (increasingly imported) perversion like this. Talk about specialized, fractionalized markets.
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