Greece, 2010, 95 min
As an architect suffering from cancer prepares for his impending death, his daughter, Marina, attempts an awkward flight into adulthood. Emotionally stilted at 23, Marina seeks the counsel of her best friend—the promiscuous and instructive Bella—who bluntly guides her through the clumsy physicality of sex. Marina, who prefers to watch the mating rituals of animals on David Attenborough documentaries than to experience them herself, wades through uncomfortable territory for the first time. We glimpse her terse experiments, her fumbles and frank inquiries as she tries to figure out how these things called relationships work. All the while, she shuttles her father to and from the hospital, witnessing his own body deflate. The daily machinations of Marina and Bella unfold against the backdrop of a crumbling mill town wrought firmly in the industrial imagination. Once conceived to be a paradise of production, the town is now a hollow landscape of steel skeletons, deserted construction sites and crumbling ’60s mod homes—a decrepit utopia that Marina’s father helped to create. But things still emerge in the wasteland. Director Athina Rachel Tsangari constructs a world that is at once sobering and playful, strained and delightful, drawing out the life ripening amid the industrial clutter. Tsangari imbues her characters and landscape with an inchoate beauty; everything, everyone is a work-in-progress. She applies a wry lens, scrutinizing her characters’ bizarre behavior with the rigor of an observing biologist, exposing their follies under searing lights. But, by doing so, their absurdity becomes accessible and intensely intimate. She makes us feel close.
Presented in association with 8th Annual Greek Film Festival in San Francisco.