Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Italy/Brazil, 2021. Frenesy Film Company, MeMo Films, RT Features, Rai Cinema. Story by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, Screenplay by Kevin A. Rice. Cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. Produced by Luca Guadagnino, Emanuela Matranga, Francesco Melzi d’Eril, Marco Morabito, Gabriele Moratti. Music by Ryûichi Sakamoto. Production Design by Elliott Hostetter. Costume Design by Giulia Piersanti. Film Editing by Walter Fasano.
Alicia Vikander and John David Washington are a happy couple enjoying a vacation in sunny Greece when they are advised to leave their Athens hotel and get out of the city because of a disruptive protest that is heading to Syntagma square, directly below their balcony. They head north into the mountains, enjoying the beautiful if much chillier scenery, but their idyl is sorely interrupted by a devastating car accident that sees them skid off the road in the middle of the night and crash into a supposedly abandoned house in a remote village. Before passing out in the wreckage, Washington sees a woman and a little red-headed boy through blurred vision, but when he wakes up and is interrogated by the police, he is told that the house was supposed to be empty and that the people he saw were probably immigrant squatters. When he goes back to the scene of the accident to take stock of what has happened, he is shot at by both a strange woman and the cop who questioned him, forcing him to go on the run and try to stay alive while crossing the country back to the capital city and, hopefully, to the American embassy.
As he moves from town to town, grabbing a train ride here and a car ride there, he ends up at the rally that the couple had been avoiding, the crowds whipped up into an excited frenzy and expecting the appearance a politician whose nephew’s kidnapping has been a high-profile news item of late, and whose position in the political struggle between extreme left and right factions has seen him stoking controversy over his plans for austerity measures and capital controls. Filmed on location with a marvelous sense of reality to the crowd scenes, this conspiracy thriller runs the risk of angering the national tourism board with its avoidance of the postcard-pretty images that usually dominate films set in Greece, this is closer to a Costa-Gavras experience than your usual Mamma Mia fantasy. It’s not hard to see any of the twists coming, generally you can be sure that anyone Washington speaks to for too long is going to turn out to be crooked and, given that he arrives at the American embassy almost an hour before the movie is over, it’s safe to say that the twists don’t end there. Washington’s character’s inability to see what lies ahead can sometimes be frustrating, and paranoid thrillers should be told with a lot more humour than is on display here, but things do build to a very exciting climax and it ends with a very satisfying bang. Vicky Krieps is terrific as a helpful and sympathetic activist.