×

Apartment in Athens

Late American writer Glenway Wescott's classic 1945 novel "Apartment in Athens" is faithfully brought to the screen.

With:
With: Laura Morante, Richard Sammel, Gerasimos Skiadaressis, Jon Peter Boom, Vincenzo Crea, Alba de Torrebruna, Maria Grazia Mandruzzato, Andrea di Maggio. (Greek dialogue)

Late American writer Glenway Wescott’s classic 1945 novel “Apartment in Athens” is faithfully brought to the screen — albeit by Italians, with the cast dubbed by Greeks — in Ruggero Dipaola’s directorial debut feature. The perverse tale of a Nazi officer who forces an intellectual’s family in occupied Athens to board him exerts a certain fascination, even if one might wish its interpretation were more nuanced and distinctive. This competent, creepy-enough dramatization should pick up scattered theatrical and home-format sales as its festival tour winds down.

Textbook publisher Nikolas Helianos (Gerasimos Skiadaressis) and wife Zoe (Laura Morante) are a bit rattled but dignified when German military personnel come knocking at their door, since they’re not hiding anything that could be construed as contraband. But it turns out stereotypically blond, blue-eyed, supercilious Capt. Kalter (Richard Sammel) is looking for something else — for accommodations, in fact.

He promptly commandeers the couple’s bedroom (they’ll now sleep in the kitchen), humorlessly enumerating his requirements as an uninvited guest whose visit might go on indefinitely, and whose displeasure could bring serious consequences. The officer dotes discomfitingly on the family’s pretty, dim teenage daughter (Alba de Torrebruna), for whom he’s as glamorous as a film star. Even more queasily, he takes an immediate punitive interest in the younger child (Vincenzo Crea) who doesn’t disguise his own hostility toward the interloper. (The Helianos have already lost an older son to the war.)

Tensions are thankfully relieved for a time when their Kalter abruptly goes abroad. Upon his return, he’s bowed by an initially unarticulated personal tragedy, no longer contemptuous but openly soliciting Nikolas’ company in friendship. As in the fable of the scorpion and the turtle, however, this avid acolyte of master-race ideology can be trusted only so far before he reverts to his poisonous true nature.

The story brings its own considerable weight of psychological suspense, although helmer Dipaola doesn’t add much style or personality to the task. The result is a decent, well-acted drama that ably holds attention yet misses the chance to become something truly memorable.

Production values are unobtrusively adequate; the adult male leads aside, all the thesps have been dubbed (except, presumably, on Italian-release prints) by a Greek voice cast.

Popular on Variety

Apartment in Athens

Italy

Production: A L'Occhio et la Luna production in association with Apulia Film Commission. (International sales: L'Occhio et la Luna, Rome.) Produced by Ruggero Dipaola. Executive producer, Sandro Frezza. Directed by Ruggero Dipaola. Screenplay, Heidrun Schleef, Dipaola, Luca De Benedittis, based on the novella by Glenway Wescott.

Crew: Camera (color), Vladan Radovic; editor, Roberto Missiroli; music, Enzo Pietropaoli; production designer, Luca Servino; costume designer, Alessandro Lai; sound (Dolby Digital), Alessandro Bianchi; assistant director, Giovanni Vaccarelli; casting, Beatrice Kruger. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Focus on World Cinema), Aug. 25, 2012. (Also in Palm Springs, Rome film festivals.) Running time: 93 MIN.

With: With: Laura Morante, Richard Sammel, Gerasimos Skiadaressis, Jon Peter Boom, Vincenzo Crea, Alba de Torrebruna, Maria Grazia Mandruzzato, Andrea di Maggio. (Greek dialogue)

More Film

  • San-Sebastian

    San Sebastian, Zurich to Take Up SXSW, Tribeca Titles at Newly Created Film Markets

    The San Sebastian and Zurich film festivals have teamed to launch new film markets that will cater to the gaps created by the cancellation of SXSW and the postponement of Tribeca due to the coronavirus pandemic. The programming of both fall festivals will feature titles originally scheduled for spring fests SXSW and Tribeca. The markets [...]

  • Coronavirus Placeholder COVID19 Variety

    Japan's Toei Closes Tokyo Studio After Coronavirus Infection

    Toei closed its Tokyo studio Tuesday after actor Reo Komiya was diagnosed with the coronavirus. The star of the “Mashin Sentai Kiramager,” a sci-fi/action show broadcast on the TV Asahi network, seventeen-year-old Komiya tested positive for the virus while shooting new episodes at the studio. His condition is not known at the present time. A [...]

  • Aqute Media Takes North America on

    Aqute Media Takes North America on Helen Reddy Biopic 'I Am Woman'

    London-based sales agent WestEnd Films has closed a North American deal with Jeff Sackman and Berry Meyerowitz’s company Aqute Media for “I Am Woman,” the biopic about Australian singer Helen Reddy. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival as the opening film of the Special Presentations section. The film also recently [...]

  • Sundance Film Festival Placeholder

    Sheffield Doc/Fest Rejigs With Fall Programming, Virtual Forums in Lieu of Festival

    The Sheffield Doc/Fest pitching forums, MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Talent Market are to take place virtually in June, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The rest of the June festival is being replaced by a series of programs that will take place on weekends through the fall. The planned programming will include film screenings, talks, panels, [...]

  • Southland Tales

    Streamer Mubi Partners With Prada Foundation on 'Perfect Failures' Film Series

    Specialist streaming service Mubi has teamed up with fashion label Prada’s Fondazione Prada foundation on “Perfect Failures,” a curated selection of movies deemed to have been “widely misunderstood” upon their release. The joint project will launch on both the Mubi platform and the Fondazione Prada’s website on April 5 with U.S. director Richard Kelly’s 2006 flop [...]

  • Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in

    'Morbius,' 'Ghostbusters' Sequel and More Sony Movies Pushed Back to 2021

    Sony Pictures has pushed back many of its major tentpoles — including “Morbius,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Uncharted” and “Peter Rabbit 2” — to next year, the studio announced on Monday. Jason Reitman’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” has moved from July 10, 2020, to March 5, 2021; Jared Leto’s “Morbius” has been pushed back from July 31, 2020, to [...]

  • Anne Hathaway to Star in 'French

    Film News Roundup: Anne Hathaway Stars in 'French Children Don't Throw Food'

    In today’s film news roundup, Anne Hathaway will portray an American journalist in Paris, blockbuster director Michael Bay signs with Sony Pictures, and “Extra Ordinary” and “The Etruscan Smile” are added to arthouse streaming services. CASTING Anne Hathaway is starring in the movie “French Children Don’t Throw Food,” based on Pamela Druckerman’s autobiographical book, “Bringing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content