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ArTherapy for connoisseurs or Athens version of the Fame Story

14 March 2010 / 12:03:19  GRReporter
9209 reads

Collage – Vima newspaper

Maria S. Topalova

There is no better time to offer your fans an artistic therapy against the period of an economic crisis and fear from the fore coming social shock. Told in the style of Fame Story and with main characters being the graduating students of the Drama school of the Greek National Theater, the movie calls for a smile on your face with the very first scene. At some moments it is replaced by tears and in some moments it turns into a wild laughter, however you just cannot take your eyes off the screen. And this is not by chance having in mind that the movie caries the signature of Nikos Perakis, the most interesting name in the contemporary Greek cinema.

Even the title with its English sound ArTherapy takes us through a globalized Athens where the Greeks communicate through Skype, they live along with immigrants from all nationalities, the Greek verses alternate with the English ones, the Greek rhythms with the ones of Roy Orbison and Andrew Loyd Weber and in the local reality enters a Swedish insurance company, guarantee of the street art wall panel, the movie contest traveling around the world 48 hour project and of course the MAD television. Actually this is just the framework in which with documentary impartiality and finesse is created the portrait of the young generation of Greek artists who are rehearsing every day for 12 hours a day and then are getting ready for the rehearsals on the next day and are trying to work whatever they find and as long as they can in order to survive until the next payment. In this case the director has chosen the graduating students form the Drama school, however they could have been dancers, artists, designers, architects…

In this group portrait are outlined three characters – the one of Alexandros, a graffiti artist, creator of street art wall panels and a talent which is inspired by everything he meets on the streets – garbage, semi destroyed buildings, street musicians; the one of Andreas, a graduate student of the Drama school and drummer of a nice underground band called Stilleto Scag and whose rap talent stars in unsuccessful movie attempt for the contest 48 hour project; and the one of Ilia, the singer with doubtful vocal abilities, however very spectacular behavior on the stage, who makes a living as a designer of children clothes. The difference between the performer and the character is so small that the spectator is often asking when do the actors play themselves and when are they following Perakis’ script. With the exception of the love triangle which they are trapped in and some more cinematographic interventions the movie could be entirely a documentary.

As opposed to the original Fame Story in its Athens version there is no happy end, there are no top of the class students and no prestigious scholarships. After the graduation from the school the struggle to survive and proving yourself continues to the full power. The end of the movie does not weight down, this is not the style of Nikos Perakis. He opens all doors before his characters – Alexandros decides to go on and continue painting, however in the streets of Berlin, Ilia leaves for London and searches her luck there and Andreas starts working with a new director who promises him that if he works hard and improves his talent he will perform on the Paris stage. However along with the opened opportunities there are also tests, risks, temptations, there is no place for relaxing or calming down. However the characters are brave – they accept the challenges, they do not fear from anybody and anything, they struggle alone in the nest of snakes and somehow they make us believe they will win.

The movie tale is very economical even ascetic. The emotions reach to their peak and they grab you by the throat during a monolog about the love of Iro Bezu in various interpretations of the young actors and then comes the laughter which makes you cry during a verbal duel between Alexandros and the policemen from the Terrorism control services. Besides everything else ArTherapy is a strong urbanistic film, an admiration of the Athens everyday life in which, yes, the terrorism, the anarchism and vandalism still have their place. The director admits that the movie is shot in the days of the glory opening of the new Museum of the Acropolis, however from the social event there is no trace in the life of the young artists. Their heart beats in Psiri and GAzi in the alternative musical Synch Festival and the contest 48 hour project in the halls of the Drama schools and the artistic cafes around it.

ArTherapy is created with such cinematographic elegance which from this side of the ocean we only see in the artwork of Guy Richy and on the other side of the ocean only in the stories signed by Ang Lee. The 66 years old Nikos Perakis stated his preference to the digital camera and the young audience long before the economic crisis, because “the viewers who are entering the movie theaters are at the age between 15 and 27 years old, 28 to the maximum and with this age group you cannot communicate through patterns and clichés”. Among the actors there is nobody famous, only ones who will become famous (once they have been discovered and presented by Perakis). With the exception of course of the charming Andreas Konstantinou, whom we remember from his role as the fiery Cretan Manos from “Tranquility!”. Then the talented actor was only second year student in the Drama School and now we meet him as graduate student.

Tags: Nikos Perakis ArTherapy cinema
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