Good on the basics, but little oomph

Film director Nikos Perakis has found himself somewhat burdened by the enormous success of his 1984 «Loufa kai Parallaghi» [a term used for soldiers who just loaf through their military service], one of the sharpest, most hilarious comedies to be produced in Greece in the past 20 years. Since then he has been searching for a new (controversial) style, wandering into the world of, mainly, female neuroses. Now, however, the filmmaker shows that his well-honed instinct has guided him well as he returns to a scene that only men really know intimately in Greece (and which he himself has dealt with using a good deal of finesse): military service. His new film, «Loufa kai Parallaghi 2: Sirens of the Aegean» is set on a small islet off the coast of Kos, where we see a group of young soldiers and a Turkish cruise ship filled with young beauty contestants and Pakistani illegal migrants. The stage is set for a big, exciting bang. Perakis circles the subject – a parody of the Imia crisis in 1996 – with great care. In fact, he exercises so much care that he sometimes takes the stuffing out of the satire, which shows breadth, but little depth. Where the film is all Perakis is in the way he illustrates the many different facets of Greek reality: the arrogant, ignorant journalist who fancies himself something of a Casanova; the love-struck, trigger-happy sergeant; the well-educated young foot soldier; the way the military functions on the borders and the manner in which the Turkish beauties are regarded. He paints a portrait of a society where more or less anything goes. The humor in the film arises mostly from the characters themselves and decent acting – with the exception of a token appearance by Vicky Kagia and a stilted performance by Renos Haralambidis – which gives a result that is quite decent, but nevertheless plays it safe just a little more than one would want of a satire.