Dienstag, 7. Oktober 2014

Filmfest Hamburg: Ξενία (Xenia)

Greek writer/director Panos H. Koutras' tragicomic road movie "Ξενία (Xenia)" is disorganized in conception and even clunkier in execution. Throwing one too many themes into the mix without a consolidated plot where everything has its place turns it into a hodgepodge of sorts lacking any real bite.

The journey of the two teenage boys to find their biological father in Athens is eventful all right, but whether the participation of one brother in a talent contest, the mobbing and gun-shooting incident, or the interlude with the hospitable uncle who may or may not be more than just a good friend of their mother, the numerous intervals are not embedded in a meaningful story arc nor presented with enough subtlety to be dramatically effective. The odyssey is further paved with plenty of camp elements, from a dreamy, moonlit cruise liner carrying a diva singing her heart out to several impromptu karaoke numbers or dance routines, but none of them has the sophistication or really goes over the top to milk noteworthy guilty pleasure. There are a few aesthetic highlights in the film, where fantastical creature or atmosphere are featured to take the focus temporarily out of the ugly reality, but overall this is not a particularly good-looking picture. Acting-wise, Kostas Nikouli plays a convincing part flaunting the tight pants and the lollipops, but this character is written with too little coherence to be much more than a colorful caricature.

On the one hand being unapologetically shrill and blunt, on the other attempting a nuanced attack on the geopolitical, sexual and identity politics of modern-day Greece, the movie most likely has its heart in the right place, but what ends up on screen is so middling in every way it fails even being a hot mess.

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