Winner of the Silver Alexander Award and best-actress prize at last year’s Thessaloniki film fest, “Lefteris” is a notable Greek film on the universal theme of an ambitious man who loses sight of the important things in life. First-time director Pericles Hoursoglou and his excellent cast breathe new life into the basically familiar material.
Pic opens on New Year’s Eve 1987, with prosperous engineer Lefteris Dimakopoulos (Nikos Georgakis) celebrating with his wife and family in his elegant home. There’s an unexpected visitor, Lefteris’ old friend from student days, Panayotis (Nikos Orphanos), who reminds him of Dimitra (Maria Skoula), the woman he’d loved and lost on the road to success.
Flashback to 1973; Lefteris (the name means “freedom”) is working as a student in Athens and living with the lovely Dimitra, who is strongly disapproved of by his family back home. He quarrels with his uncle, who pays his bills, when the old man calls Dimitra a whore. All through his student days (with political unrest touched on also), Dimitra is loyal to Lefteris and neglects her own studies to help him.
Once he graduates, he gets a job in Germany for two years, then does compulsory military service in the navy. On one of his increasingly rare visits to Dimitra, he makes her pregnant and then is furious to discover what’s happened. Dimitra has an abortion, and leaves him for good.
The familiar situation is given freshness here thanks to Hoursoglou’s sensitive direction and the natural performances of the cast of newcomers.
Tech credits are all excellent, with the camera work of Stamatis Yannoulis especially fine.