‘Lilly’s Story:’ An attempt to grasp narrative cinema
Director Roviros Manthoulis wanted to come to grips with a big subject by returning to narrative cinema 33 years after «Face to Face,» and after a successful term working in documentary and French television. In his new film, «Lilly’s Story,» he focuses on the self-exiled Greeks living in Paris during the colonels’ dictatorship in Greece, through a story about a film that was never made. The events he describes are real and so are his characters. The role of storytelling is restricted to only serving the facts as honestly as possible. «Lilly’s Story» has strong ties to the past. It recreates the atmosphere of Paris at the time and shows the various events in the daily lives of its characters. Manthoulis, though, is not very concerned about time and location because exiles throughout the world share a common lack of a homeland, trapped as they are in no man’s land. The director has created a film using many brief scenes, highlights that become a part of the whole through the central narrative of the lead character, Bruno Putzulu. Jules Dassin, Melina Mercouri, Giorgos Sevastikoglou, Alki Zei, Dimitris Hadzis and Mathoulis himself are given life on screen by the actors (not always equally successfully) and meet in «Lilly’s Story» through the common goal of making a film which is destined to remain on the drawing board. Their plans, like those of «Lilly’s Story,» seem to hit a hitch. «What is this book I am writing? A chronicle, a screenplay, a novel, scattered sheets of life,» remarks Manthoulis in the prologue to his recently published book with the same title. The film is just as undecided and vague, and while this vagueness is rather charming in the book «Lilly’s Story,» in the film it reflects a lack of structure, like a puzzle whose pieces are not put in the right place. The most interesting and well-acted scenes are those featuring Minas Hadzisavvas as Dimitris Hadzis (a role which earned the actor an award at the recent Thessaloniki Film Festival). When the camera distances itself from the microcosm of the group and follows the hero’s journey to Budapest, the film is granted a breath of fresh air and space. The cast of «Lilly’s Story» also includes Olia Lazaridou, Giorgos Vogiatzis, Iota Festa and Christina Alexanian.