The current new wave of Greek cinema places strong emphasis on absurdism, abstraction, surrealism and allegory - at least as seen from the work of a generation of filmmakers that includes Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, ALPS) or Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg). To that list add now advertising director Babis Makridis, whose feature debut L (co-written by Mr. Lanthimos' regular collaborator Efthimis Filippou and sharing crew members with his and Ms. Tsangari's films) follows in the same absurdist path. L could probably be read as a metaphor of the social and political issues Greece (and, through a wider lens, Europe) face currently, even though Mr. Makridis is the first to say the film's original concept, developed with his friend Yorgos Giokas, predates by a number of years the current crisis.

     An attempt at explaining what goes on here might be something like this: a driver (Aris Servetalis) is replaced at his job and becomes a biker instead when he realizes his past and his driving experience count for nothing any more. But this nugget of plot is teased out at great length in between a series of surreal developments: none of the characters is ever given a name; the driver lives in his car and never leaves it; his job is only to go buy honey for a narcoleptic boss (Yannis Bostanizoglou), and so on. The performances are flat and dispassionate, the camera set-ups geometric and fixed; the film slowly becomes an abstract, apocalyptic parade of wry surrealism, which would be all good and dandy if L didn't suggest that this is fast becoming a "Greek house style" whose oddness becomes more and more a reason in itself. Its dry, affectless stylization makes the film heavy going (even at under 90 minutes) and the savagely satirical approach is somewhat off-putting, but there is no denying that the film stands out from the pack as something very much its own. L doesn't really bring anything new to the "Greek new wave" - not that it wanted to, though.

Aris Servetalis, Makis Papadimitriou, Eleftherios Matthaios, Nota Tserniafski, Stavros Raptis, Yannis Bostanizoglou, Thanassis Dimou, Christophoros Skamnakis, Pavlos Makridis, Natalia Tserniafski, Antonis Iaiakis, Kyriakos Zafeirilidis, Alesis Kanakis, Giannis Nikolaidis, Michalis Kostakos.
      Director, Babis Makridis; screenplay, Efthimis Filippiou, Mr. Makridis, from a story by Yorgos Giokas; cinematography, Thimios Bakatakis (color, processing by Kodak Cinelabs Greece); music, Costantino Kiriakos; designer, Dafni Kalogianni; costumes, Dimitris Papathomas; editor, Yannis Chalkiadakis; producers, Amanda Livanou, Mr. Makridis (Beben Films in co-production with Nova, Feelgood Entertainment, Faliro House Productions, Top Cut and Modiano, in association with Warp Films), Greece/United Kingdom, 2012, 87 minutes.
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2012 advance screener, Lisbon, April 14th 2012. 

L trailer por Flixgr


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