Review: ‘Return in Autumn’

A post-World War II Greek refugee finds his "Return in Autumn" to the Czech city where he was raised unleashes a flood of memories. Autobiographical feature from helmer George Agathonikiadis is long on heartfelt sentiment but short on involving narrative thrust, suggesting good regional play, selected fest interest and dignified tube life.

A post-World War II Greek refugee finds his “Return in Autumn” to the Czech city where he was raised unleashes a flood of memories both happy and bittersweet. Autobiographical feature from helmer George Agathonikiadis is long on heartfelt sentiment but short on involving narrative thrust, suggesting good regional play, selected fest interest and dignified tube life.

Arriving in the southern Czech city of Brno to relocate his grandparents’ remains to their cherished Greece, architect Stavros (Czech mainstay Jiri Bartoska, also prez of Karlovy Vary fest) finds he can’t go anywhere without thinking of people and events from his past. One of some 3,000 Greek children relocated to then-Czechoslovakia in 1948, he remembers his feisty grandparents, his dislike of olives, the suicidal painter who lived in his neighborhood, and various other playmates and young loves. Bartoska strikes just the right note of rugged pensiveness as the camera zooms in on his face and cuts to another unbidden recollection, and Petros Alexandridis is eager as the young Stavros. Tech credits are clean and crisp for a Super 16-to-35mm blow-up, with good use made of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and Catalani’s “La Wally.”

Return in Autumn

Czech Republic

Production

A Czech TV production. (International sales: Telexport, Prague.) Produced by Josef Souchop, Darina Levova. Directed, written by George Agathonikiadis.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16-to-35mm), Kristian Hynek, Josef Pavek; editor, Miroslav Pergl; music, Panagiotis Kalatzopoulos; art director, Karel Cerny; sound (Dolby Digital Surround EX), Lubor Hochmann. Reviewed at Montreal Film Festival (World Cinema: Reflections of Our Time), Aug. 26, 2001. (Also in Karlovy Vary Festival -- Czech Films.) Czech and Greek dialogue. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Jiri Bartoska, George Velendzas, Olga Tournaki-Diamantopoulou, Vilma Cibulkova, Petros Alexandridis, Vlastimil Brodsky, Jan Kacer, Miroslav Vladyka, Sotiris Tsongas.
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