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Opa!

Mildly diverting but utterly predictable, "Opa!" offers oodles of picture-postcard scenery while focusing on an uptight workaholic who enjoys a lusty reawakening during an extended stay in Greece. Pic is sufficiently inoffensive to serve as crowd-pleasing filler for older auds at regional film fests before cable and homevid beckon.

With:
Eric - Matthew Modine Tierney - Richard Griffiths Katerina - Agni Scott Mayor - Christos Valavanidis Agapoula - Panayota Aravantzi

Call it “Zorbette the Greek.” Mildly diverting but utterly predictable, “Opa!” offers oodles of picture-postcard scenery while focusing on an uptight workaholic who enjoys a lusty reawakening during an extended stay in Greece. Despite fleeting semi-nudity, pic is sufficiently inoffensive to serve as crowd-pleasing filler for older auds at regional film fests before cable and homevid beckon.

Surprisingly tame effort from Indian-born, U.K.-based helmer Udayan Prasad (“My Son the Fanatic”) intros Matthew Modine as Eric, an American archaeologist obsessed with fulfilling his late father’s dream of finding a sacred chalice once used by St. John the Divine.

Through use of satellite surveillance and imaging technology, Eric locates the probable site of a long-buried church on the scenic Greek isle of Patmos, where the chalice could be found. Unfortunately, the church lies beneath a popular restaurant owned and operated by Katerina (Agni Scott), a vivacious young widowed mother who immediately takes a shine to the awkward American visitor.

Second half of the pic pivots on a simple question: Will Eric toss aside a lifetime of work — and, not incidentally, abandon what he feels is his duty to his deceased dad — to keep his new love from losing her business? The answer is a good deal less than surprising.

Working from a derivative script by Raman Singh and Christina Concetta, Prasad uses broad strokes and familiar caricatures to underscore the contrast between buttoned-down Eric and vibrant Greek islanders. Modine, who’s forced to wear a silly hat to indicate his uptightness, is earnest but bland, while the frightfully corpulent Richard Griffiths casually saunters through the pic as an older Brit archaeologist who once knew Eric’s father. Scott overplays the Incandescent Life Force business, but she nonetheless remains appealing.

Pic milks mild chuckles from the antics of oddball supporting characters — a boisterous American demolitions expert, three old women who serve as, natch, a Greek chorus.

Hans Zambarloukos’ color lensing is attractive enough to possibly influence vacation plans of some viewers.

Opa!

U.K.-Greece

Production: An Elliott Kastner, George Pappas presentation in association with UFFP of a Cinema Seven production. Produced by Thierry Cagianut, Jeffery Bloom. Executive producer, George Pappas. Directed by Udayan Prasad. Screenplay, Raman Singh, Christina Concetta.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Haris Zambarloukos; editor, Barie Vince; music, Stephen Warbeck; production designer, Dimitris Ziakis; costume designers, Bianca Nicolareisis, Despina Giavridi; sound (Dolby Digital), Graham V. Hartstone. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 14, 2005. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: Eric - Matthew Modine Tierney - Richard Griffiths Katerina - Agni Scott Mayor - Christos Valavanidis Agapoula - Panayota Aravantzi

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