A pleasurable reflection on everything and nothing, “I Dream of My Friends” is right up there in minimalist heaven. Story of a strong, silent Euro dude’s four ambivalent, inconclusive encounters over 25 years has an indulgently unhurried pace that will hinder commercial prospects, but veteran Greek helmer Nikos Panayotopoulos’ unfailing finesse should steer it to wide fest exposure.
Despite his scant interest in conventional narrative, Paris-trained Panayotopoulos has crafted four short stories by contempo Greek writer Dimitris Nollas into an elliptical but engaging personal assessment of his own generation that displays technical prowess and a coolly pan-European aesthetic.
Opening in 1965 with a series of loving, leisurely camera-prowls around Berlin’s hazy cityscape, story picks up the laid-back Kyriakos (Lefteris Voyatzis), who is involved with a fellow Greek in a scam to unload encyclopedias on U.S. army bases.
In1973, he shares a ride with an insistently communicative truck driver heading from the Yugoslav border down to Greece. In 1981, he gets drunk with a bartender in a Greek airport during a blackout. Final encounter, in 1990, is in the opulent marble bathroom of an Athens hotel, where during a wedding reception he smokes a joint with two colleagues, one of whom subsequently drops dead.
Panayotopoulos appears as concerned with inanities as truths. He doesn’t hedge at dipping into periods of silence, idleness and boredom as a means of adding nuance to his focal character, played with precision and detachment by Voyatzis. What emerges is a minor-key riff on disillusionment and displacement.
Giorgos Frentzos’ graceful camera work stands out in an unerringly pro technical field. The four time brackets are introed with jazz interludes by Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt.