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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 12.08.10] Greece movie review news drama

Year: 2010
Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Writer: Athina Rachel Tsangari
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7 out of 10

While Greece is slowly limping back from economic collapse, the country’s independent cinema has been hitting them out of the ballpark with title after title of fantastically bizarre titles. Giorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth (review) caught the attention of the international public and this year, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg is the film to see.

Produced by Lanthimos (not a surprise considering Tsangari produced Dogtooth as well), the trailer for Tsangari’s film suggested some strangeness and indeed, the film is a little odd but no where near as twisted as Lanthimo’s. This isn’t a horror film disguised as an art film: it’s a personal, emotional story about a girl lost in the world.

Marina lives with her dying father Spiyos, an architect, in a development he designed in a quiet seaside town. At 23 she’s a sheltered girl, much loved by her father but with little life experience. She spends her days watching David Attenborough’s nature programs with her father (occasionally sharing an intimate moment of animal mimicry with him) and hanging out with her best friend Bella. Much more experienced and independent, Bella tries to teach Marina the delicacies of physical relationships starting with the French kiss. In a hilarious (and a little gross) opening scene, Bella and Marina practice by essentially rubbing their tongues together. It’s odd, and gets odder when the two turn into wild animals, but a great set up for the rest of Tsangari’s film which is often preoccupied with the idea of people as animals and the cities we live in as cages that contain us.

Occasionally, Attenberg falls into the trap of being too obvious, the message of humans as wild, animalistic creatures is laid out in the opening scene and then re-visited too often for my liking, but for the most part, Attenberg is happy to develop Marina’s relationships with her father and the budding romantic affair with an engineer. Through it all Marina grows and we slowly see the emergence of a young woman who is fragile but capable of handling whatever the world throws her way even if she has to muddle her way through it.

Sexuality, as it does in the wild, plays an important role in Tsangari’s film and in Marina’s growth into adulthood. Tsangari includes in her script frank discussions on everything from sexual expectation to sexual taboos and it’s refreshing to see a film about a woman finding herself tackling these discussion head on even if they do occasionally devolve into moments of humour.

I can appreciate that Attenberg is an exercise not only in personal growth but in how we fit into the world at large, I found myself wandering away from the story on a number of occasions while the barrage of animalistic messages started to wear me down partway through. I also had some issues with the odd choreographed dance/spasm that Marina and Bella share throughout the film; it’s amusing and I realize that Tsangari is showing just how bored these two women are that they’ve spent a lengthy amount of time choreographing the steps but it was a just a little too much quirk for my liking. Yet even with its problems, Attenberg is a refreshingly straightforward story of female self discovery and sexual awakening.

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John (11 years ago) Reply

It is a story about the beginning, creation, and an ending of a life, great and touching one at that.
Humans are bigger animals than animals are, which this movie points to show, and heartless and uncaring at that.
Sexuality, and self-discovery are side attractions and focus here, beginning and the ending of life are.

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