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directed by Panos H. Koutras
Greece/France 2014

 

Sixteen-year-old gay teenager Dany (Kostas Nikouli, THE REPUBLIC) travels from Crete to Athens to inform his eighteen-year-old brother Odysseas (Nikos Gelia) that their mother has died. Being half-Albanian on their mother's side, Odysseas is even more concerned that Dany's flamboyant hairstyle, dress, and behavior will make them the target of Greek Fascists who come out at night to harass and assault immigrants. When Odysseas tells Dany that he has lost his Residency Visa and that Dany may as well, Dany reveals that estranged family friend Tassos (Aggelos Papadimitriou) had told their mother that he had seen "The Unspeakable" - also known as the father that abandoned them - in Thessalonica remarried and living under a new name. Dany suggests that they should travel to Thessalonica to attain money and acknowledgment (and thus, citizenship) from their father, and for Odysseas - having inherited his mother's singing talent - to audition for "Greek Star" and attain fame and fortune. When Dany tries to intervene in an attack on an immigrant woman and is arrested by immigration, he escapes the youth detention center (having been advised by Odysseas' advocate that it is easier than trying to go through official channels) and the two brothers take to the road. Staying at Tassos' nightclub, Odysseas trains with his own "Greek Star" hopeful Maria-Sonia (Romanna Lobats), a Ukranian immigrant, while Dany learns that the man Tassos believes is their father is a right wing anti-immigrant candidate named Lefteris Christopoulos (Yannis Stankoglou, HOSTAGE). When Dany is harassed by fellow Albanian youths for being gay, Odysseas comes to his rescue but Dany pulls a gun and shoots one of the kids. Dany and Odysseas escape on foot and find shelter in a derelict hotel called Xenia. During their stay at the hotel, the two brothers reconnect and talk about the things they have planned for the future with the money Odysseas hopes to win from the contest. In Thessalonica, Odysseas and Maria-Sonia reconnect as they await their chance to audition (Odysseas having accepted that he will have to move on if he cannot get a visa). Dany, however, finds Lefteris' address and goes to his house, confronting Lefteris' wife (Marissa Triandafyllidou, GOD LOVES CAVIAR) with the truth and is willing to resort to violence to make the man he believes to be his father admit it.

Although quite a charming comedy/drama, XENIA proves rather listless as an "odyssey" (his lawyer's name is Antigone and she is played by an actress whose given name is Electra), building up to an open and unsatisfying resolution after moving along at a fairly good clip for over two hours. Animal violence (sometimes real and sometimes too effectively simulated) is not unheard of for dramatic effect in European dramas, so viewers may be a bit distracted during the first third worrying about the fate of Dany's pet rabbit which he carries around inside his gym bag and lets run around in the outdoors while he is distracted by dreams and fantasies; therefore it is both a relief and a laugh-out-loud moment when Dany begs Odysseas to put the wounded animal out of its misery and it is replaced not with a ridiculously unconvincing prop but turns out to have only been a living animal in Dany's mind as Odysseas tears the stuffed animal's head off. A seven foot tall version of the bunny following the two brothers as they continue their journey as well as appearances by Italian singer Patty Pravo (THE AMERICAN), along with a visualization of Dany's childhood memory of sleeping on his father's hairy chest, are among the surreal touches that suggest that Dany is a little unhinged even if one can interpret the juvenile of not understanding the gravity of his actions when he holds his father and stepmother at gunpoint. The film also explores the rise of fascism and racism in Greece as well as the clash of cultures experienced by immigrants and those whose residence is determined by bloodline rather than place of birth (who are considered strangers in Greece and would be in the countries of their ancestry).

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release: 18 June 2014 (France)

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DVD Review: Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 2:08:44
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.84 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Greek/Albanian Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Strand Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
� Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:39)
� Previews for 'Stranger by the Lake', 'Wetlands', 'The Way He Looks', and 'Drown'

DVD Release Date: December 8th, 2015
Amaray

Chapters 8

 

 

 

Comments

Strand Releasing's dual-layer DVD features progressive, anamorphic encode of this Arri Alexa-lensed feature that is fairly strong, with some softness in darker scenes presumably having more to do with the look than the mid-to-high bitrate for a film of this length. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track features a mix of Greek and Albanian dialogue, surreal sequences where music overwhelms the natural sound design, and generally sedate sound design. The optional English subtitles distinguish the Albanian dialogue from the Greek. The sole extra is the theatrical trailer (although trailers are also provided for four other Strand releases).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 


 




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