Tough times for Sentimentalists
by Joseph Proimakis
- Nicholas Triandafyllidis’ long-awaited return is a funny yet poignant noir drama that elegantly mixes dark comedy with tragic romance.
“The first thing God created was love - then came blood and the thirst for blood,” says star Ilianna Mavromati (photo) off-camera, setting the mood for Nicholas Triantafyllidis’ new film after a 14-year hiatus, which had its work-in-progress screening Thursday at the Athens International Film Festival.
Focusing on a duo of thugs who take care of business for a lawn-shark and illicit antiquity dealer (Takis Moshos), the film sees their lives become immensely complicated, when they make the penultimate mistake in a world of violence and pain: Haris Frangoulis’ hotheaded wild one falls for Eftyhia Giakoumi’s hooker; his counterpart, Dimitris Lalos’ more calculated and distant character, lets himself become enchanted by the boss’s daughter, played by Ilianna Mavromati.
In the film’s most brutal scene, Triandafyllidis draws a straight parallel to the country’s current state: an unidentified, English-speaking accountant, high on coke and alcohol, brings Giakoumi’s call-girl into his luxurious hotel-suite. Sick of all the hate and rage the country’s been piling on him, he brutally sodomizes her, her hospitalization sending our heroes into a spiral of violence and signaling their fall from grace.
Beautiful but largely forgotten Greek songs are unearthed to provide topical color to a film that largely transcends its origins, its rough, brutal, dark and yet funny and romantic undercurrents creating an enchanting atmosphere that engulfs the viewer, carrying him along to some of the director’s favorite cinematic oeuvres.
A myriad of directors, producers and even a Member of Parliament (writer Petros Tatsopoulos) show up for cameos, turning Triantafyllidis’ on-screen return into quite the celebration. Deservedly so, as the director has reinvented himself through his love for film and genre, and delivers a work that may carry a very dark heart, but a big heart nonetheless.
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