Metaphoric, literal worlds apart

Film directors Alexandros Voulgaris and Theodoris Atheridis are a world and some 20 years apart. The 25-year-old Voulgaris has composed a story of small, everyday, unnoticeable gestures, balancing gracefully between reality and fantasy. In «Pink,» he handles the doubts of his characters and double entendres with a keen eye and cinematographic dexterity. With «A Bee in August,» Atheridis, aged 42, transfers a story to the big screen that has already been successfully tried and tested on the stage. And this surety of success passes from stage to screen without further development, but, alas, these are two very different arts and here there is no room for such certainty. The film has ended up becoming a string of gags (some more amusing than others), with no proper structure and, most importantly, no cinematic vision. «Pink,» Voulgaris’s second feature film (after «Crying?»), confirms the filmmaking qualities that had initially made their appearance in his first film. And most importantly, he has succeeded in turning the imperfection of «Pink» into its most endearing qualities. He addresses a fleeting theme without losing the thread of its authenticity and its fresh feel. He comes in and out of his lead character’s mind, into his reality and his dreams, without compromising the playful feel of the story. The director has cast himself in the lead, where he plays alongside a young actress, Romanna Lobac. A tender relationship of mutual understanding blossoms between the two. In parallel, we see an absent mother, an indifferent stepmother, a depressive teacher, a retired, disinterested father, a stuck-up brother and the family pet dog, Roz (Pink). Voulgaris has reintroduced a fairy-tale world and even gone beyond that, because it is only the colors of the film that slip away from realism. The short narratives are realistic and the unaffected dialogues reveal a sensitive artist with a sense of humor. His artistic language is not an imitation, it just is. The film, as noted during its premiere at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival last November, flows with a welcome ease that is reminiscent of a children’s narrative. There are no great truths revealed in it nor does it try to underscore any special tensions. The emotions conveyed don’t spurt out; they are in the background and are expressed directly and simply, at times with melancholy and at others with sarcastic tenderness. The great relationship between the young man who doesn’t want to grow up and the adolescent girl who fantasizes of a great teenage love affair is built on small, almost imperceptible actions. Atheridis, a very popular television actor, circles a good idea in «A Bee in August» – a bee stings the hero on a deserted beach and the allergic shock brings out his alter ego. The wonderful coincidences that arise and the clashing personalities of the characters and their relationships form an interesting interplay that worked well in the theater. It does not, however, a film make, unless we consider a video recording of a stage performance a movie.