Review: ‘Matchbox’

"Dysfunctional" is hardly the word for the family that tears itself apart in "Matchbox," a blackly humorous rantfest set in an Athens working-class apartment where the air conditioning has broken down. This first feature by helmer Yannis Economidis is highly specialized fare, further limited by being shot on less than top-grade DV equipment.

“Dysfunctional” is hardly the word for the family that tears itself apart in “Matchbox,” a blackly humorous rantfest set in an Athens working-class apartment where the air conditioning has broken down. Though well cast, with a take-no-prisoners perf by Errikos Litsis as the bellicose paterfamilias, this first feature by Cyprus-born helmer Yannis Economidis is still highly specialized fare, further limited by being shot on less than top-grade DV equipment.

Unspooling like a one-act play divided into two scenes, film starts with cafe owner Dimitris (Litsis) screaming down the phone — hard to swallow until the viewer realizes the whole family talks like that. Other characters gradually arrive and join in the mutual abuse, including Yorgos (Kostas Xykominos), his brother-in-law and business partner; Maria (Eleni Kokkidou), his tough wife; Lukas (Stavros Yakoulis), his foul-mouthed, playboy son; Kiki (Angeliki Papoulia), his equally gutter-mouthed daughter; and Vangelis (Yannis Voulgarakis), an employee being pressured to marry a pregnant Albanian. A family revelation occasions a slight pause before battle recommences. At the end of the day, there’s not a great deal of point to the pic, though it plays more entertainingly than it sounds.

Matchbox

Greece

Production

A Cassandra Films, Strada Prods., Greek Film Center, X-Rated Films, Kino, Max Prods., Studio Era presentation of a Cassandra Films production. (International sales: Greek Film Center, Athens.) Produced by Nikos Tsangaris, Yorgos Lykiardopoulos, Spyros Kokkas. Executive producer, Takis Veremis. Directed by Yannis Economidis. Screenplay, Economidis, Lenia Spyropoulou.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Dimitris Horianopoulos; editor, Spyros Kokkas; art director-costumes, Yorgia Demiri. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of Europe), Sept. 1, 2003. Original title: Spirtokouto. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Errikos Litsis, Eleni Kokkidou, Kostas Xykominos, Yannis Voulgarakis, Ioanna Ivanoudi, Stavros Yakoulis, Angeliki Papoulia, Serafita Grigoriadou.
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