Evangelia Randou and Ariane Labed in Attenberg (2010)


(director/writer: Athina Rachel Tsangari; cinematographer: Thimios Bakatakis; editors: Sandrine Cheyrol/Matt Johnson; cast: Ariane Labed (Marina), Vangelis Mourikis (Spyros), Evangelia Randou (Bella), Yorgos Lanthimos (the Engineer); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Maria Hatzakou/Yorgos Lanthimos/Iraklis Mavroidis/ Athina Rachel Tsangari /Angelos Venetis; Strand Releasing; 2010-Greece-in Greek with English subtitles)

“Works somewhat as a perverse droll coming-of-age film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The sophomore outing of Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari (“The Slow Business of Going”) works somewhat as a perverse droll coming-of-age film that pauses in its weirdness to slap around the Greek government planners for their lack of vision and that they couldn’t face up to the recent economic meltdown that has the country reeling. It also covers the dread of first-love for the heroine virgin girl, her dying father’s fear of being buried where worms can eat his corpse, and the obsession of killing time for the bored young heroine who spends her leisure time watching a Brit TV nature series and listening to a punk rock group named Suicide.

The 23-year-old virgin Marina (Ariane Labed) works for a taxi service andlives in a depressed backwater industrial town by the sea, and is repulsed by sex with either a man or a woman. Her best friend is the sexually active Bella (Evangelia Randou), a waitress, who teaches her how to French kiss by actual demonstrations in the hopes of settling down her aimless friend. The eccentric Marina routinely watches the nature show that’s written and narrated by Sir David Attenborough. The show has an anthropological bent, as in one show apes reveal the same sexual impulses as humans. Marina gets her kicks by imitating the animals in silly childish dance routines with Bella. The title is cutely derived from Marina’s mispronunciation of Sir David Attenborough, the star of the nature show.

Marina is pre-occupied with visiting her dying cancer-ridden dad Spyros (Vangelis Mourikis) in the hospital and listening to his funeral requests. On one visit she confides in him that she met a man, a visiting engineer (Yorgos Lanthimos, , director of Dogtooth) working on an industrial project and living in the temporary aluminum shelters her architect father designed.

With her protective dad dying, her friend not someone she feels comfortable in confiding in and her new world-weary intellectual boyfriend interested in sex, the undeveloped Marina must immediately learn how to assume adult responsibilities or else face an uncertain future (much like the Greek government).

The pic, though pleasant enough, was too overwhelmed with weirdness for me to pay its maturation lessons more attention. Offering only slight insights into human or animal nature, or the malaise in Greek society, the pic goes down as a curious cult work that should gain favor with an audience willing to accept its playfulness and idiosyncratic way of getting across its points about modern society.