Good intentions but no true cinematic vivacity

Let’s start with the basics: Nikos Panayiotopoulos is one of Greece’s best directors. His images have charm, are aesthetically complete, wary of the easy way out and trends, and generally apt to produce surprises, irony and challenges. His director’s signature is easily discerned in his new, 10th film, «I’m Sick of Killing Your Lovers,» which is currently being shown at movie theaters. The film shows Athens both as it is and as we would like it to be. The focal point is the Stoa tou Vivliou book center on Panepistimiou and the rooftop cafe Polis, the surrounding streets and a nocturnal city center drenched with the songs of Giorgos Mazonakis. Which is where the director appears to lose the thread of what exactly he is trying to do. He’s like a cook in the throes of inspiration. The film tells the story of a pop-laiko singer whose show includes the impressive blonde airhead / femme fatale (played by Theofania Papathoma). Her first victim is a wholly undignified publisher, intellectual and slightly martyred soul (Nikos Arvanitis) who falls head over heels in love with her. Her second victim is an eccentric policeman and lover of crime fiction (Akyllas Karazisis). The film’s characters talk to one another in borrowed prose ranging from Shakespeare to Celine. Panayiotopoulos does little to hide the fact that very little is original prose and that’s precisely what makes it work. The three characters get themselves in a total tangle through a murder which the policeman is called to solved. The girl, in the meantime, has fallen deeply in love with the publisher. Like a heroine in a novel, she tries desperately to save him from prison. Panayiotopoulos has tossed literature, film noir, dance hall eroticism, the charm of decadence, blind passion and unrequited love into the same pot and stirred it around. Unfortunately, his dosage is somewhat off. The director’s trademark sense of irony goes through the film like a shiver, but the film itself does not cause a shiver of its own. Destructive passion is described but not conveyed. Magic exists as a concept but does not convince the viewers of its strength. The femme fatale is beautiful but not charming. The movie is pleasant but it lacks vivacity. Nikos Arvanitis looks like a hero but he overplays his part. Papathoma is not bad – she has confidence – while Karazisis, in contrast, comes across as being ill at ease. The movie also features Betty Arvaniti, Athina Maximou and Alexis Georgoulis. The photography is by Giorgos Arvanitis, sets are designed by Dionysis Fotopoulos, costumes by Marianna Spanoudaki, the music is by Stamatis Kraounakis and the film editing by Takis Yiannopoulos.