In the tradition of charming, character-driven comedies such as “Local Hero,” sprightly romp “Small Crime” centers on a tightly wound novice cop assigned to a sleepy Greek island where nothing much happens and everyone knows everyone else’s business. Unfolding in a beautiful, remote location that practically becomes a character in itself, this appealing second feature from Cyprus-born, Athens-based helmer Christos Georgiou (“Under the Stars”) humorously captures the mentality of a small island community. Entertaining pic reps a genial find for fests and programmers of new European cinema.
Frustrated policeman Leonidas (Aris Servetalis) longs to be reassigned to Athens. He’s tired of doing nothing except tell naked tourists to put on their clothes. He can’t relax and enjoy the sun and sea like his boss (Erricos Litsis), the schoolteacher or the gossips at the cafe.
But Leonidas’ life changes when Zacharias (Antonis Katsaris), the local drunk, turns up dead at the foot of a cliff. The unexplained death offers a puzzle for him to solve, and introduces him to Aggeliki (Viki Papadopoulou), the island’s most famous former citizen, now a successful talkshow hostess.
As Leonidas investigates, each new bit of information sparks a potential scenario in his hyperactive imagination, visualized by director Georgiou to increasing comic effect. Particularly hilarious is the version suggested by taverna owner Panayiotis (Arto Apartian), in which the Americans are to blame for Zacharias’ demise.
While Leonidas and Aggeliki strike up a romance, they also uncover a secret plan to lure more tourists to the rocky island.
After his serious debut pic, helmer Georgiou proves himself a dab hand at romantic comedy, drawing winning performances from his two attractive leads. He also has fun with elements such as an ice-cream freezer, a singing fish trophy and bad cell-phone reception, without over-exploiting them.
Shot entirely on ruggedly picturesque Thirassia, a small, lightly occupied island in the clear, blue water near Santorini, the impressive tech package captures a timeless way of life. Whitewashed buildings rim the cliffs near the unspoiled beach, herds of donkeys and goats march through the narrow streets, and a seaside taverna and beautiful church host traditional celebrations.
Versatile score by Constantis and Thanassis Papakonstantiou, at times bluesy rock, at times ethnic folk, provides ironic commentary on the action.
Pic opens in Greek theaters via AudioVisual in April and in German ones via Neue Visionen in June.