A weak comedy with few laughs and little insight.

A quartet of Greek wastrels are forced to confront their prejudices in “Plato’s Academy,” a weak comedy with few laughs and little insight. In his follow-up to Berlin competish pic “My Sweet Home,” sophomore helmer Filippos Tsitos revisits immigration issues, but this time he’s mired in a strictly smallscreen format devoid of complex characterization. Meant to combat bigotry, the anemic script merely recycles stereotypes and lets everyone go home feeling comfortable but not transformed. It’s strictly for local screens and Hellenic ancillary.

Sad-sack slacker Stavros (Antonis Kafetzopoulos) is in a funk: His mother (Titika Saringouli) is senile, his wife (Maria Zorba) divorced him and he can’t sleep. He wiles away the time with three layabouts, sitting outside their tobacco shops on a nondescript Athens corner and laughing at a dog trained to bark only at Albanians. When Albanian handyman Marenglen (Anastas Kozdine) turns up, Stavros’ mom turns lucid, spouting fluent Albanian and revealing her hidden background, claiming Marenglen is the older son she had to abandon when fleeing to Greece. Marenglen remains a cipher, while nameless busy-bee Chinese workers are mere window dressing. Visuals are uniformly flat.

Plato's Academy

Greece-Germany

Production

A Pan Entertainment (Greece)/Twenty Twenty Vision (Germany)/Greek Film Center (Greece)/ZDF-Das Kleine Fernsehspiel (Germany) production, in collaboration with ARTE, ERT, Graal S.A. Digital Creations. (International sales: Pan Entertainment, Athens.) Produced by Constantinos Moriatis, Thanassis Karathanos. Executive producer, Moriatis. Directed by Filippos Tsitos. Screenplay, Alexis Kardaras, Tsitos.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Polidefkis Kirlidis; editor, Dimitris Peponis; music, Enstro; production designer, Spyros Laskaris; costume designer, Christina Chantzaridou. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 13, 2009. Greek, Albanian dialogue. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Antonis Kafetzopoulos, Anastas Kozdine, Titika Saringouli, Giorgos Souxes, Konstantinos Koronaios, Panayiotis Stamatakis, Maria Zorba.

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