Review: ‘Desire’

All dressed up with nowhere to go, "Desire" is a sloppy story about two siblings embarking on parallel careers of minor crime. Idea is fresh, but in the hands of writer-director Vassiliki Iliopoulou, execution is limp. Heavy-handed symbolism and lack of character development prevent the viewer from caring about the protagonists. Auds aren't likely to express much desire for this one.

All dressed up with nowhere to go, “Desire” is a sloppy story about two siblings embarking on parallel careers of minor crime. Idea is fresh, but in the hands of writer-director Vassiliki Iliopoulou, execution is limp. Heavy-handed symbolism and lack of character development prevent the viewer from caring about the protagonists. Auds aren’t likely to express much desire for this one.

Unlike nearly all the Greek films presented at this year’s Thessaloniki Film Festival, pic at least has a recognizable beginning, middle and end. Story opens with brother Lou and sister Zoe playing in a derelict shipyard outside their home in an industrial suburb of Athens. Mother packs the kids off to the nearest orphanage so she can spend more time with her biker boyfriend and prevent them from “turning into bums.”

Separated for five years, the sibs decide to escape from their respective institutions when they’re granted permission to attend mama’s funeral. But not before her biker boyfriend has a chance to sleep with Zoe, who mistakes the one-night stand for true love and spends the rest of the pic looking for him.

To support themselves, Zoe lifts wallets and runs errands for a con artist, who makes a living forging ancient works of art, while Lou steals cars for a gang of hoods. Predictably, their paths keep crossing. And, in an apparent misguided homage to Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” many of the scenes take place under the lights of a creepy amusement park.

Excellent night exteriors by lensman Stamatis Yannoulis are wasted here. Same goes for Viki Volioti’s considerable acting talent. Panos Papahadzis, widely regarded as Greece’s most successful feature producer, looks to have gambled badly this time out.

Desire

Greek

Production

A Greek Film Centre presentation of a Hyperion Prods./Greek Film Centre production. Produced by Panos Papahadzis. Directed, written by Vassiliki Iliopoulou.

Crew

Camera (color; 16-to-35mm blowup), Stamatis Yannoulis; editor, Christos Voupouras; music, Nikos Kypourgos; set/costume design, Agnes Doutsi; sound, Antonis Samaras. Reviewed at Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece (Intl. and Greek competitions), Nov. 9, 1995. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Viki Volioti, Dimitris Alexandris, Nikos Orfanos, Alkis Panayiotidis, Stratis Tsobanellis.
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