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Cypriot film noir

16 January 2014 / 13:01:52  GRReporter
3813 reads

Maria S. Topalova
    What happens when the pirate island meets the post-communist East? Brothels, nasty pimps, beautiful and not so beautiful prostitutes, brutal policemen, thugs, criminal records, forged bank notes and all this is just in between Nicosia and Varna. Such a small geographical area crammed with so many clichés.
    "Joy and Sorrow of the Body", a film by Cypriot director Andreas Pantzis defined as a modern social drama, tells the story of young Evagoras. He is imprisoned for forgery of bank notes but he does not betray his friend and business partner Milen. After five years in prison, he is at liberty and leaves for Varna to obtain his share of Milen’s prosperous business activity. In Varna, he comes across skinhead thugs with thick necks, traders in flesh, mobsters and beautiful Bulgarian girl Dita, who graduated from a nursing school but works as a hairdresser and makes her living as a paid companion.
    Beatings, threats, brutal sex, poverty, tasteless luxury, a weak script and finally you literally feel like "we've seen this film before". A violin player on the balcony, a crazy piano player, Italian neorealism - a great mess, which does not even omit the Turkish invasion in Cyprus. You may ask what it has to do with history and you are right because it is like a threadbare patch. Nevertheless, can a Cypriot film be silent about the Turkish invasion... The scriptwriters obviously lack the intellectual sophistication of a "Budapest Noir", for example, and the director the skilful cinematography and subtle humour of an "ArTherapy".

    I would not be fair to the film if I did not distinguish the short but very impressive meeting with Meglena Karalambova in the role of Milen’s mother who has been left and become insane due to her loneliness. Silvia Petkova playing Dita and her double life is very charming but at the end of the film, she somehow loses her persuasiveness. I appreciate Harris Abrazis’ debut in the role of the romantic young Evagoras who remembers and observes his grandfather’s advice never to betray his friends. The appearance of the star of Greek cinema, George Horafas, in the role of traitor and mobster Milen is rather disappointing for me, perhaps because I retain a very nice memory of the actor's performance in the film "A Touch of Spice".

    The film is a co-production of Cypriot Famagusta Film Factory and Greek Curium Films, with the participation of Bulgarian Premiere Studio Plus and it was sponsored by Eurimages. The premiere in Cyprus was on 31 October 2013 and the film will be on the Greek screens on 6 February 2014.

Tags: Film noirJoy and Sorrow of the BodyAndreas PantzisHarris AbrazisGeorge HorafasSilvia PetkovaCypriot cinema
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