Superficial development in ‘Real Life’ proves a letdown

At the beginning you might think you’re watching a clever, Greek take on Pedro Almodovar. There’s humor and sarcasm, imaginative styling with strong colors, voluminous hair – an atmosphere of postmodern «Dynasty» aesthetics. At the same time, you are also looking at a profound game on the many faces of reality. Aris, the lead character (played by Nikos Kouris), the scion of a wealthy family, is also accident-prone. «Ambulances used to be his basic means of transport,» says his anti-comformist, arrogant mother (played by Themis Bazaka). At a first reading, the plot borders on the soap opera genre: On the one hand are these terribly rich people leading crazy lives and hiding guilty secrets. On the other, particularly poor people, scarred by fate, are facing a deadlock but also harboring dreams – which they realize no matter the price they end up paying. A brave, cynical, and self-interest-based world. Everything is over the top in Panos Koutras’s «Real Life,» currently on at local cinemas. The film gets immersed in mannerisms, in an attempt to show the different versions of reality. Filled with extreme emotions and situations, it tries to balance (not always successfully) between the rich and the poor, feelings of guilt and pleasure, the dramatic and the comical, the fake and the real. The only one who succeeds in walking gracefully and with delightful virtuosity on the thin red line is Themis Bazaka, delivering all the character’s nuances. The director is attracted to all that is eccentric. Both this and his previous film (his first feature, «The Attack of the Giant Moussaka») unfold with a sense of illusion rather than reality. And though as an artist Koutras may have the capability to deal with the extreme, the script does not have the same dexterity. The story’s development remains superficial, wasted on twists and surprises which never really reach the core of the matter, like fireworks that never go off because of a lack of power. Besides Kouris and Bazaka, the cast also includes Marina Kalogirou and French-Greek actress Anna Mouglalis.