1962. A glamorous American couple, the charismatic Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) and his alluring younger wife Colette (Dunst), arrive in Athens by boat via the Corinth Canal. While sightseeing at the Acropolis they encounter Rydal (Isaac), a young, Greek-speaking American who is working as a tour guide, scamming tourists on the side. Drawn to Colette's beauty and impressed by Chester's wealth and sophistication, Rydal gladly accepts their invitation to dinner. However, all is not as it seems with the MacFarlands and Chester's affable exterior hides darker secrets. When Rydal visits the couple at their exclusive hotel, Chester presses him to help move the body of a seemingly unconscious man who he claims attacked him. In the moment, Rydal agrees but as events take a more sinister turn he finds himself compromised and unable to pull himself free. His increasing infatuation with the vulnerable and responsive Colette gives rise to Chester's jealousy and paranoia, leading to a tense and ... Written by
Chester sits on a plane in 1962 (as evidenced by the date on a gravestone). However, the De Haviland Comet with square windows as seen in the film was discontinued years before. The improved Comet 2 and the prototype Comet 3 culminated in the redesigned Comet 4 series which debuted in 1958. See more »
Film opens at the Parthenon in Athens. A young male guide, played by Oscar Isaac, is guiding some impressionable girls. An older couple enter the scene. The male, played by Viggo Mortensen, is mature. His younger wife, played by Kirsten Dunst, looks like Doris Day. Thus we seem catapulted into the Hitchcock era. Film is in fact set in 1962, and all scenes seem authentic.
A central theme of far too many Hitchcock films to list, is that of an innocent man caught up in events over which he has no control. In this film, however, we quickly find that Mr Mortensen's character is no innocent. He is, however, quickly thrust into events that are out of his control.
Within the central trio of characters, it is unclear what are their individual motives, or, who is trying to con who. The sexual chemistry and tensions remind of 'Knife in the Water' (1962).
Film is a true Hitchcockian-style suspense movie rather than a thriller. As the tension rises so does the music, which also is pure Hitchcockian, and could easily have been lifted in great chunks from one or more of his movies.
As the tension rises, so too does the pace. From the start, the film moves at a decent pace, but this builds as the film progresses, and the pace gets faster and faster. Great camera shots, great chases, and iconic scenes, also suggest homage to 'The Third Man (1949).
All location shooting was superb. This reviewer, once attempting to follow in the footsteps of Plato, got lost in the mountains, and had to be rescued by shepherds. So it was with a fond familiarity that I saw those same mountains.
One explanation for the Hitchcockian-feel to the movie can be explained by the fact that the film is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith. Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1951 film 'Strangers on a Train' was also based on a novel by Miss Highsmith. Thus perhaps it may be more accurate to describe the feel and touch of the movie as Highsmithian rather than Hitchcockian. Miss Highsmith is also the origin of the 'Ripley' stories.
This flawless and faultless masterpiece of a film, is the first full-length film directed by Hossein Amini. He also wrote the screenplay.
This film will appeal to all, though the 12A certificate means that it is unsuitable for young children. Suitable for all others, it is very suitable, and it will be very much appreciated, by classicists and Hitchcock fans.
A masterpiece! 10/10!
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