Uranya

Following last year's "Chariton's Choir," "Uranya" is another attempt to concoct a charming coming-of-age tale set in 1968 during Greece's military dictatorship. Here the protags are a band of young teens torn between raging hormones and a burning desire to watch the moon landing on TV.

With:
With: Aris Tsapis, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Michalis Tsirakis, Dimitris Piatas, Tassos Palatzidis, Fotini Baxevani, Taxiarhis Hanos, Manolis Mavromatakis, Dina Michaelidi, Andreas Kyriakakis, Yorgos Liatis, Nikos Vassilikiotis, Constantinos Levanis.

Following last year’s “Chariton’s Choir,” “Uranya” is another attempt to concoct a charming coming-of-age tale set in 1968 during Greece’s military dictatorship. Here the protags are a band of young teens torn between raging hormones and a burning desire to watch the moon landing on TV. With a nod to Fellini and “Il Postino” but no big-name actors in the cast, this gentle, edge-less yarn has a warm, old-fashioned look that could appeal to family auds. Pic drew modest local biz last December.

In an idyllic village by the sea, five boys, led by green-eyed Achilles (Aris Tsapis), spend the summer playing pilot in a fallen plane and collecting funds for their first visit to local prostitute Uranya. Kittenishly played by Italian actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Uranya lives in a beach shack straight out of Fellini.

While climbing a tree to get a peek at a sexy film playing in an outdoor movie theater, little Achilles breaks a leg. In the city hospital, he learns the U.S. is about to put a man on the moon, so to watch this historic event, he convinces his gang to divert their savings to buy the village’s first TV set. In the meantime, the Secret Service arrives to clean up “dangerous” elements in the village like Achilles’ left-leaning father, prior to U.S. vice president Spiro Agnew’s visit.

Conflict is so painfully lacking in the movie that even the military junta comes off as more comic than menacing. In a way that recalls his nostalgic flashback-to-youth film “Peppermint,” helmer-writer Costas Kapakas is most convincing when he recounts the warmth of feeling that pervades Achilles’ quarrelsome family and his memories of growing up in more innocent, less global times.

Two well-done animation scenes stand out from the otherwise simple lensing and tech work.

Uranya

Greece

Production: An Odeon release of a Cinegram production, in association with CL Prods., Finos Film, Greek Film Center, ERT, Kappa Film, Nova, Odeon, Panorama Films. (International sales: Greek Film Centre, Athens.) Produced by Despina Mouzaki, Haris Padouvas, Dionyssis Samiotis. Directed, written by Costas Kapakas.

Crew: Camera (color), Stefano Falivene; editor, Yorgos Mavropsaridis; music, Panayotis Kalantzopoulos; art director, Olga Leontiadou; costume designer, Eva Nathena; sound (Dolby Digital), Marinos Athanassopoulos; casting, Sotiria Marini. Reviewed on DVD, Rome, Feb. 24, 2007. (In Berlin Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Aris Tsapis, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Michalis Tsirakis, Dimitris Piatas, Tassos Palatzidis, Fotini Baxevani, Taxiarhis Hanos, Manolis Mavromatakis, Dina Michaelidi, Andreas Kyriakakis, Yorgos Liatis, Nikos Vassilikiotis, Constantinos Levanis.

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