Marina, 23, is growing up with her architect father in a prototype factory town by the sea. Finding the human species strange and repellent, she keeps her distance from it. Instead she observes it through the songs of Alan Vega's Suicide, the mammal documentaries of Sir David Attenborough, and the sexual education lesson she receives from her only friend, Bella. A stranger comes to town and challenges her to a foosball duel, on her own table. Her father meanwhile is preparing for his exit from the 20th century, which he considers to be 'overrated'. Caught between the two men and her collaborator Bella, Marina investigates the wondrous mystery of the human fauna.
What a film, I adored this feature. For its bravery, uniqueness and willingness to be something different, in almost every aspect.
Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, this feature was a true experience. An arthouse film from Greece, in Greek and parts in French plus a dash of English, it had such a character, and tone which shone through the screen with such confidence and clarity. The direction is masterful, guiding the four main performances to every beat, it doesn't feel overlong or cringed, it is sublime, and pure.
The main performance by Ariane Labed was perfect, she delivered her characters fear, inexperience, crudeness, wackiness, and curiosity with such a command, that is quiet yet enthralling. This being her first film performance, and a tough one to wrestle with, it is classful and incredible that it was delivered so well, despite the characters absurdity.
Evangelia Randou as Bella was great, she played the promiscuous character well. In particular I found for the random cuts to where Marina and Bella would walk down the pathway in the strangest ways, dancing or pouncing about, they were hilarious and truly something which lightened the somewhat heavy theme of the picture. Vangelis Mourikis as Spyros was surprisingly funny, I had though that his character would be boring, but in the end, I sympathised with him greatly and his final fate is sad, yet it is what would always of happened. Yorgos Lanthimos also appears in this film, his character is a vehicle for Marina to explore the new world which she enters, and he plays the part very well, without an ounce of amateurism as an actor, while many of his scenes are highly sexual, the narrative focuses deeply on the characters, and how much they speak during their interactions, which is funny since these are the only scenes with great deal of dialogue, which was deeply ironic and funny.
The screenplay and narrative of this film are on paper rather thin, however when played on screen; they become so full of life and so rich. The characters may seem catatonic on the facade, but if one pays attention, they become so layered. Though little is spoken throughout this feature, very much is said through body language, though sound, these are highly visual performances. And that is how the character development is delivered, and is driven by bad circumstances and poor decisions, that deliver such strong characterisation. The screenplay can'y have been very long, yet it delivers so much.
The narrative is further aided by the masterful cinematography. It is in a 1.85:1 which immediately is different and gives a larger, more juvenile looking frame, on my screen it was very engaging. In addition to this, the camera acts as as if it were a person, but always either slowly moving or sat down, it feels very natural. No shot if forced, nor extreme, it is a visceral experience. It is beautifully filmed. It was done on 35mm film, this gives it something of a timeless look, for it has nether the sharpness of 64mm film, nor the grainy and retro look of 16mm film. It is my personal favourite type of film, and seeing it used to its greatest effect, in mostly natural lighting, with natural angles, it was a sight to behold. A welcome gift for weary eyes.
On the negative side, in sone small segment towards the end of the second act, the film loses a little steam, and slows down a tad but then picks up again very quickly. Also I felt that Yorgos Lanthimos' character could have been explored a little more than what was given.
The uniqueness of this film cannot be understated. From the sheer quirkiness of certain scenes, which can go so far as pure madness, it was absolutely intoxicating and engaging. This is not a phrase I like to use, but I couldn't take my eyes off the screen, I was staring at it the whole way through, even the more disturbing and intimate scenes, this film as such character and breath of uniqueness that is just not present in so many other films. The way the natural colours look, the film, the framing, the performances and the remarkable screenplay and strong direction, overall give an interesting and ultimately fun experience, I was very glad to have seen this obscure and mostly forgotten about film, I give it a very healthy 9/10
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this