L, a Greek enigma, in Rotterdam
by Boyd van Hoeij
03/02/2012 - The first film by Greek director Babis Makridis, L, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival before it moved to different freezing cold town on another continent for its European premiere: Rotterdam.
Part of the Tiger Competition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam(IFFR), which is currently under way, L takes place in a realm that is physically located in Greece but which shares a mindset with the recent wave of absurd-inclined, slightly bizarre and occasionally nonsensical new wave of Greek films that includes Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth [trailer, film focus] and Alps and Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg [trailer, film focus], which screened at major festivals such as Cannes and Venice.
Though L is a first film, it was co-written with the director by Efthimis Filippou, also a screenplay collaborator on the films of Lanthimos, and the spirit of those films is very much present here.
The film stars Aris Servetalis (another Lanthimos collaborator) as a man who is a driver and who transports small quantities of honey (sample quantity: one pot). He is practically married to his car, so it comes as a great shock when one day he is fired.
The fragmented way of storytelling is even more abstract than in the films of Lanthimos and Tsangari, which at least had a semblance of a plot throughline, underlining both the absurdity of the nameless man’s situation but also pushing this Greek New Wave further into the realm of the cryptic arthouse films that are hard to read.
Furthermore, with its intentionally mechanical line delivery and stoic acting and physical presence of the actors, it is hard to become emotionally involved in the characters. The attention of cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis himself also an alumni of the Lanthimos films, for the desolte and depressing landscapes outside the windscreens is impressive, however.
The film was produced by Beben Films.