My Best Friend

Busting out of the barriers of the TV comedy arena that he rules in Greece, funnyman Lakis Lazopoulos' first film behind the camera -- with co-helmer Giorgos Lanthimos -- works mightily to make a big impression.

With:
With: Lakis Lazopoulos, Antonis Kafetzopoulos, Vera Krushka, Smaragda Karydi, Maria Kavoyianni.

Busting out of the barriers of the TV comedy arena that he rules in Greece, funnyman Lakis Lazopoulos’ first film behind the camera — with co-helmer Giorgos Lanthimos — works mightily to make a big impression. As a result, “My Best Friend” is a sex farce on steroids, overflowing with energy and excessive curiosity about what the movie camera actually can do. Like all good comedies, Lazopoulos’ script begins with a simple premise, but eventually it entangles itself in so many copious couplings that non-Hellenic viewers trying to read the subtitles go cross-eyed. Since its February opening in Greece, pic hasn’t been invited to major fests abroad, and even a well-situated screening at the Hollywood Film Festival didn’t seem to set distribs’ hearts racing.

Hopelessly delayed in traffic en route to his Paris-bound business flight, insurance agent Constantine (Lazopoulos) returns home to find best buddy and co-worker Alekos (Antonis Kafetzopoulos) shtupping his sexy Romanian wife, Andrea (Vera Krushka). They don’t see him, but Constantine is sent into a tizzy of nightmares and flashbacks of growing up with Alekos. Still, he manages to keep his wits together: He stays in Athens, all the while convincing Andrea and Alekos that he’s in Paris.

Alekos’ wife, Daphne (Smaragda Karydi), meanwhile is constantly suspicious of her husband, who actually had the hots for Andrea before he introduced her to Constantine six years before. But that’s only the start of revelations on the eve of Constantine and Andrea’s anniversary.

Though the filmic intention is to visually match the cheated husband’s newly altered view of the world, results are unbalanced at best. Set pieces abound, clearly informed by comic surrealism, and with wildly varying success. Pic’s frenetic energy and push beyond the boundaries of realism recalls a younger Terry Gilliam, but the ribald, joyously lusty sexuality is Lazopoulos’ own, and he uses it as a comic engine for useful if predictable irony in the final reel.

Lazopoulos has just the right look of slightly befuddled wonder when gazing on his world turned upside down. He employs that same wonder behind the camera, but might consider calming down some in future. Platon Andronidis’ lensing and Anna Georgiadou’s sets are ultra-contemporary.

My Best Friend

Greece

Production: An LL Prods./Mega Channel/Filmnet/Greek Film Center co-production. (International sales: Greek Film Centre, Athens.) Produced by Costas Lambropoulos. Directed by Lakis Lazopoulos, Giorgos Lanthimos. Screenplay, Lazopoulos.

Crew: Camera (color), Platon Andronidis; editor, Giorgos Mavropsaridis; music, Xaxakes; music supervisor, Nikos Mouratidis; production designer, Anna Georgiadou; costume designer, Elly Papageorgakopoulou; sound, Panos Papadimitriou. Reviewed at Hollywood Film Festival, Aug. 3, 2001. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Lakis Lazopoulos, Antonis Kafetzopoulos, Vera Krushka, Smaragda Karydi, Maria Kavoyianni.

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