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CANNES 2022 Cannes Première

Review: Dodo

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- CANNES 2022: Pános H Koútras’ new outing is a patchy comedy of errors, where there’s little to tell or to laugh about

Review: Dodo
Tzortzis Papadopoulos, Natasa Exintaveloni and Ana Jorjikia in Dodo

After Xenia [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Panos H. Koutras
film profile
]
(2014), Pános H Koútras is back on the Croisette with his new effort, a comedy titled Dodo [+see also:
trailer
interview: Pános H Koútras
film profile
]
, showcased in the Cannes Première section of the Cannes Film Festival.

The whole picture revolves around a once-rich family living in a dream house outside the Greek capital. Cheating husband Pavlos (Akis Sakellariou) and his wife, former TV actress Mariella (Smaragda Karydi), are heavily in debt, and the only way out seems to be to arrange a wedding between their daughter Sophia (Natasa Exintaveloni) and Aris, a rich family friend. One day, a dodo (a bird that went extinct over 300 years ago) mysteriously irrupts into the luxurious mansion, causing much mayhem and making the preparations for the wedding way more complicated than expected.

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Despite this promising opening, the plot evolves in a rather chaotic fashion, showcasing a myriad of mostly weird, despicable characters. Several of them may have fair comedic potential, but Koútras chooses to direct an overly broad ensemble cast and struggles to adequately explore any of these figures, opting for an excessively theatrical acting style and reducing some roles to mere caricatures. This is particularly visible through both leading and supporting characters, such as Tina (Ana Jorjikia), a wedding planner who screams way too often; Irina (Marisha Triantafyllidou), a bizarre housekeeper of Ukrainian descent; Aggelos (Aggelos Papadimitriou), an old, eccentric actor who is always around; and Sophia, who may be suffering from cancer and is ready to sell her body for €50 to repay a small debt contracted with Irina. It will also take quite a while to understand the truth behind Alexis (Nikos Gelia), a thirty-something man who seems to be on friendly terms with Pavlos, and trans girl Eva (Tzef Montana). There will be minimal surprise provided by their plot twist, though. Moreover, the subplot involving two Syrian refugees adds little value, but instead makes the piece longer and more convoluted.

What could have made Koútras’ film unique is indeed the presence of the dodo, but the result is ultimately patchy. Most of the puns are outdated and leave the viewer with a constant feeling of déjà-vu. The inclusion of the dodo, which is supposed to play the role of a destabilising presence, ends up being an element confined to the background, as all of the characters have already developed conflictual relationships between each other well before its appearance.

The score is another sore point: in most cases, it sounds overly sappy and clumsily underlines what’s happening on screen, in a similar fashion to that of a soap opera or sitcom.

The idea of introducing an extinct animal such as the dodo as a metaphor for a decaying, fading part of Greek society – a once-wealthy bourgeoisie that went through the country’s hard-hitting economic crisis in the 2000s and the 2010s – certainly had the potential to offer something palatable. Such a metaphor, however, doesn’t emerge powerfully, or even entertainingly enough. This makes the whole 130-minute viewing experience a farcical comedy of errors made up of unoriginal gags, predictable humour and a raft of characters that struggle to leave a significant mark, or to justify their presence and behaviour.

Dodo is a Greek-French-Belgian co-production between 100% Synthetic Films, MPM Film (Movies Partners in Motion Film) and Tarantula Luxembourg. Pyramide International is in charge of its international sales.

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