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Athens Blues

An all-in-one-night criss-crossing tale that starts to pay dividends in its second half, "Athens Blues" is too loosely wrapped to make much of an impression at a dramatic level but contains a large enough gallery of performers for auds to cherry-pick their favorites.

With:
With: Betty Livanou, Minas Hatzisavvas, Ilias Logothetis, Andreas Douzos, Renos Mantis, Alekos Oudinotis, Hristos Nomikos, Yorgos Konstas, Nikos Arvanitis, Marilita Lambropoulou, Thanos Samaras, Iro Loupi, Maya Lymberopoulou, Hristos Mytis, Alekos Alexandrakis, Anna Kyriakou.

An all-in-one-night criss-crossing tale that starts to pay dividends in its second half, “Athens Blues” is too loosely wrapped to make much of an impression at a dramatic level but contains a large enough gallery of performers for auds to cherry-pick their favorites. Shot on DV (for no perceptible artistic reason), pic could interest festival sidebars on the strength of its cast.

Main protagonists are Kyrillos, a maverick ambulance driver whose main interest is having sex with his insatiable g.f., Elektra; Maria and Yorgos, a middle-aged pair who have a regular tryst in a movie theater; Maria’s 6-year-old grandson, Thomas, who goes walkabout at night and meets a girl his age; Alexander, who ends up tied face to face with sexy Vaso, after thieves ransack his apartment; and Mihalis, owner of an all-night pharmacy.

Latter site functions as the movie’s de facto core, as Mihalis’ middle-aged cronies gather outside for late-night drinks and snacks — and gradually all the characters convene there as their individual, largely jocular stories unfold. Some occasionally share confidences with the camera, but the device is not used with any consistency.

Pic’s first half is hit and miss, with no real organization in the script to guide the viewer along and with over-obvious use of the young boy, Thomas, to hold the structure together. Second half is much better, with a few neat twists (Maria and Yorgos’ relationship), better use of Thomas’ character, and only the over-prolonged joke of Alexander and Vaso dragging the movie down.

Unfortunately, players are not identified with their characters in pic’s credits, but the ensemble is generally fine — especially of Mihalis’ cronies — and veteran Betty Livanou is nicely mellow as the independent but caring Maria. Technically, film is average.

Athens Blues

Greece

Production: An Ideefixe production, in association with Greek Film Centre, ERT-ET1, Rosebud, FilmNet, Stefi. (International sales: Greek Film Centre, Athens.) Produced by Iraklis Mavroidis, Fenia Kosovitsa, Amanda Livanou. Executive producer, Yorgos Papadimitriou. Directed by Yorgos Panousopoulos. Screenplay, Panousopoulos, Sotiris Kakisis.

Crew: Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Hristos Karamanis, Panousopoulos; editor, Yannis Sakaridis; music, Stelios Vamvakaris; art director, Spyros Laskaris. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 9, 2002. Running time: 112 MIN.

With: With: Betty Livanou, Minas Hatzisavvas, Ilias Logothetis, Andreas Douzos, Renos Mantis, Alekos Oudinotis, Hristos Nomikos, Yorgos Konstas, Nikos Arvanitis, Marilita Lambropoulou, Thanos Samaras, Iro Loupi, Maya Lymberopoulou, Hristos Mytis, Alekos Alexandrakis, Anna Kyriakou.

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