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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.
In Opa!, Matthew Modine plays Eric, an American archaeologist who uses all sorts of technology like satellites and radar to determine the best place to dig for artifacts. He comes to a small Greek island to meet with a colleague, played by Richard Griffiths, and to further his dead father's quest for the cup of St. John. Not long after arriving, Eric falls for the charms of single mother Katerina (Agni Scott) who owns a local restaurant. Soon, however, Eric's professional and personal lives are put into conflict and he must choose which one he cares about more.
Directed by Udayan Prasad (My Son the Fanatic), Opa! is like a postcard for the Greek isles. The amazing scenery is like a character itself in the movie and provides a backdrop for the story. Modine is good as Eric and his personality fits the character well. Agni Scott provides a spark and makes it easy to see how Eric could fall for her. The supporting cast is good as well, from Richard Griffiths to Alki David as Katerina's friend and even the three old women in the film that act from time to time as a "Greek" chorus.
Overall the film is entertaining, although a friend and I debated whether one situation at the end of the film would be better served by being explicitly shown rather than implied and off-screen. As well, Eric's relationship to his father is discussed enough in the film to make it seem significant, but that storyline is never quite pursued.
If you're looking for glorious scenery, a modern, comic Greek chorus of
widows -- and otherwise flat characters, inconsistent performances,
uninspired direction, and a predictable story -- the movie might be for
The formula (exotic location, culture clash, boy gets/loses/gets girl, etc.) is a workable formula. But this one seemed like a first draft of a story that needed many re-writes before it became a workable script. The formulaic plot never generated interest. Matthew Modine's character had no discernible appealing qualities, and Richard Griffiths is uncomfortably grotesque to watch. Agni Scott is beautiful and managed to make something of her role, as did Hristos Valavanidis in an amusing turn as the mayor.
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