Dir: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Starring: Ariane Labed, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou, Giorgos Lanthimus
Even though the films are quite different, I can’t help but refer to Dogtooth with this review. The producer of that film wrote and directed this one with Giorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth director) producing and acting in this one. The films both gave me the same kind of vibe, sort of similar but not quite. Both films certainly show a new wave in Greek cinema, and I like what I am seeing. Europe as a whole with its film industry are where all the fascinating films are coming from, and I really want to see more from both Athina Rachel Tsangari and Giorgos Lanthinmos.
Attenberg certainly isn’t an easy film to describe, it is set in a small town, and it is here we first meet Marina (Ariane Labed) and her best friend Bella (Evangelia Randou). The pair are introduced to us as Bella tries to teach Marina how to kiss, but Marina finds it repulsive, as she does with people in general. We soon find out her architect father Spyros (Vangelis Mourikis) is dying, and as Marina deals with this she soon finds a man (Giorgos Lanthimos) with whom she begins to show a sexual interest in.
The title of the film comes from the mispronunciation of David Attenborough, Marina’s other interest as she watches his documentaries and acts out the animal behaviour she sees on it with Bella. The pair are opposites, one is pretty much almost emotionless and is repulsed by sexuality and the other is quite promiscuous. The film is an almost examination on those emotions and sexual behaviour as well as having something to say about the industrialisation of Greece, even coming of age qualities are in there. It is multilayered and certainly a film that requires more than one viewing to fully grasp everything that is there. It is so beautifully shot, with these amazing long one shot scenes that really capture its own beauty.
The performances are well worth talking about; they are all quite fantastic and most impressive. They did remind me a bit about those in Dogtooth, especially from the younger cast as in that film they were quite robotic and strange; the same can be said about Marina’s behaviour, especially in the first half. Ariane Labed is amazing; she successfully handles the character transitions, especially in regards to her sexual journey. She is cold but there is also more going on behind those eyes, it is such a layered and thought provoking performance. Vangelis Mourikis is actually much the same, except showing a little more emotion but being a person who seems upfront and quite frank. It was an interesting performance, and not an altogether easy one to pull off. Evangelia Randou was also interesting, her scenes are mostly interactions with Marina, and their relationship is odd. She’s not altogether cold but almost like a creature trying to understand something odd, I quite liked her. Giorgos Lanthimos had a smaller role, it was an interesting one and I like what he brought.
Overall I think Attenberg is a film that will challenge each person that watches it, I think everyone will have a difference response, you’ll get it or you wont. I though it was a fantastic film, while not quite reaching the levels of Dogtooth, it still is quite astonishing. I really liked the script and direction by Athina Rachel Tsangari, and I am liking these young and new filmmakers emerging from Greece.
The Australian DVD:
Audio/Video: The video is a 16:9 widescreen presentation. The picture quality is top notch, its a very lovely transfer which highlights the films stunning cinematography. Audio is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1. the language is Greek with English subtitles. The quality is perfect, no complaints here, I was very satisfied.
DVD details here.
Thanks to Bill, care of The Analogue Titles for the copy.