A competitive swimmer recalls his involvement with the girlfriend who's now gone missing.

Greek drama “Apnea” smoothly weaves together past and present as a competitive swimmer recalls his involvement with the girlfriend who’s now gone missing. This visually accomplished first feature for Ari Bafalouka (himself a former national swim champ) is a slightly chilly but somewhat hypnotic character study/mystery that should attract further fest placements and offshore tube sales.

Twenty-three-year-old Dmitris (Sotris Pastras, a two-time Olympics participant) is a brooding type who can hold his breath underwater for more than four minutes — and just might be happiest in that weightless isolation. His emotional reticence is challenged by vivacious Elsa (Yioulika Skafida), who pulls the reluctant swimmer into her activist work uncovering toxic military waste that’s killing marine life. But when she becomes contaminated herself by radioactive chemicals, he turns against her Greenpeace-like org. On a mission without him, Elsa disappears and is feared drowned. Yiannis Tsiros’ script glides between the rescue search and flashbacks, which finally solve the puzzle in somewhat unexpected terms. Handsome package likewise glides dreamily back and forth, making poetical use of superimpositions and supple bodies in aquatic motion. Elias Adamis’ widescreen lensing is first-rate.

Apnea

Greece

Production

An Artwave production in association with Greek Film Center. (International sales: Artwave, Athens.) Produced by Elisabeth Tsouctidi, Ari Bafalouka. Directed by Ari Bafalouka. Screenplay, Yiannis Tsiros.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Elias Adamis; editor, Alexis Pezas; music, Nikos Kypougos; set decorator, Stmatis Deligiannis; costume designer, Maria Karapouliou. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (First Films, competing), Sept. 5, 2010. Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Sotris Pastras, Yioulika Skafida, George Karamichos, Andrianna Babali, Vangelis Rokkos, Akyllas Karazisis, Lydia Fotopoulou, Nikos Nikolaou.

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