Review: ‘Eyes of Night’

Nicely played relationship drama that finds an involving story in ordinary people's mistakes and weaknesses, pic stands definite chances as a Euro-cable pickup for discerning auds. Strongest of three features by writer-director Periklis Hoursoglou and is refreshing example of good, accessible filmmaking focused on middle-aged protags.

A nicely played relationship drama that finds an involving story in ordinary people’s mistakes and weaknesses, “Eyes of Night” stands definite chances as a Euro-cable pickup for discerning auds. Film is the strongest of the three features to date by writer-director Periklis Hoursoglou, best known for “Lefteris” (1993), and is a refreshing example of good, accessible filmmaking focused on middle-aged protags.

Eleftheria (played with a wonderfully mature feyness by Vangelio Andreadaki) is a 40-ish woman who works in a pastry shop and entertains romantic ideas about finally settling down with her longtime lover, Hronis (Yannis Karatzoyannis), a long-distance truck driver. In her spells alone, she’s not above consulting a TV astrologer (Spyros Stavrinidis) for guidance.

Returning to Athens from a job, Hronis gives a lift to Vallia (Ekari Douma), a small-town teen who says she wants to visit her cousin in the big city. She’s actually not sure exactly where he lives, so Hronis lets her stay at his house in the suburbs.

When Hronis tells Eleftheria about Vallia, the older woman invites the girl round for lunch, still not sure whether the two have slept together. (They haven’t, which is one of pic’s several uncliched touches.) But when Vallia finds her musician cousin (Nikos Karimalis), and starts peddling coke for him, the fragile friendship between her, Hronis and Eleftheria starts to break down.

Guts of the picture is the relationship between Eleftheria and Hronis, one of trust and hope on the woman’s side that eventually requires her to make a huge act of generosity toward the well-intentioned but rather weak Hronis. Neither party is idealized or villainized: That’s just how life is, pic seems to say, and sometimes you have to make concessions or be patient.

Casting of Andreadaki and Karatzoyannis in the lead roles is a consistent pleasure, and the former’s scenes with Stavrinidis, as the kindly old astrologer, are among the strongest and most affecting. Douma is fine as the ambitious country girl turned city punkette, though her character becomes more of a dramatic convenience in film’s mid-section than one in her own right, with a trip to visit her mother in Belgium disturbing the film’s tightly knit rhythm.

Smooth tech package is attractive without any special stylization. Title is the name of Hronis’ truck.

Eyes of Night

Greece

Production

A Prooptiki release of a CL Prods., Greek Film Center, Periklis Hoursoglou production, in association with Hellenic Broadcasting, Tonikon, Attila, FilmNet, Y-Grek Prods. (International sales: Greek Film Center, Athens.) Produced by Kostas Lambropoulos. Executive producer, Kostas Kefalas. Directed, written by Periklis Hoursoglou.

Crew

Camera (Fujicolor), Stamatis Yannoulis; editor, Dinos Katsouridis; music, Akis Daoutis; art director-costumes, Anastasia Arseni; sound (Dolby SR), Nikos Papadimitriou, Thanasis Arvanitis. Reviewed at Thessaloniki Film Festival (Greek Films 2003), Nov. 24, 2003. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Vangelio Andreadaki, Yannis Karatzoyannis, Ekari Douma, Spyros Stavrinidis, Nikos Karimalis, Marina Boura, Dimitris Mavropoulos.
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