Intriguing memory game marks director’s debut feature film

«The story I’m going to tell is not mine,» says the main cast member at the end of the film, but then again, it could be the beginning. Viewers of «Tale 52» by Alexis Alexiou are challenged to put together a puzzle comprising similar pieces. That’s what makes this film original. The narrative offers different versions of the same plot: Following a dinner among friends, a female guest winds up staying over with the host and they end up living together as a couple in love, until the moment she vanishes. Her disappearance raises a number of questions: It remains unclear when the countdown to her end begins. Her fate is also a mystery. Was it a simple breakup or was she murdered? The questions posed by the 32-year-old director in his debut feature film form a cinematic game based on repetition and spiral-like movement of memory. Alexiou describes the internal pandemonium of his main character with eloquence. He is convincing in the way he deals with the gap created in his story’s time line, the fine line that separates the imaginary and real, and the flow of daily life and the possibility of sudden change. You could sum up the film’s plot in one sentence – a man loses the woman he loves and attempts to win her back by whatever means. But three aspects – dreams, time and stains – remain unsolved. In a frenzied fashion, the man tries to clean the stains that appear on clothes or objects. The emerging director’s influences are obvious but well digested. Traces of David Lynch or Lars von Trier, from his «The Element of Crime,» are evident, but the overall atmosphere created by Alexiou is both personal and strong.

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