WORLDS APART (2016)
Running Time: 113 mins. Rating: 4 Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Christoforos Papakaliatis
Language: English and Greek w/English subtitles
Distributor: Cinema Libre
Cast: J.K. Simmons, Christopher Papakaliatis, Andrea Osvart, Maria Kavoyianni, Minas Hatzisavvas, Tawfeek Barhom, Niki Vakali
WORLDS APART is a small sort of film from Greece with big scope and ambition. The film tells three distinct narratives dealing with three love stories of sort, each representing a distinct generation, and each story involving a Greek National and a foreigner. These three stories are partially unified with recurring motifs. They also overlap with other devices that will not be reviled in this review so not to give away major plot reveals. This structure recalls another film from 2016 which I much enjoyed CERTAIN WOMEN. The use of a love story with universal appeal with its healing powers echoes the early films by Francois Truffaut, a filmmaker I greatly admire.
The first of the three love stories involves a young woman, a Greek citizen with overbearing parents who has a chance meeting with a Christian Syrian refugee on a city bus. Quickly, maybe too quickly, they set out like two puppies, enjoying the beach, each other and their youthful bliss. Notable in this section is the photography of an abandoned airport which serves as a hide a way for the refugees. “Farris” (Tawfeek Barhom) and “Daphne” (Niki Vakali) play the young couple with passion and aplomb, their trysts recall youthful innocence and the joys of first love.
The storytelling of the film is also the story of Greece in the throes of the European economic crisis. Vis a vis dealing with the refugees, in the first story. The focus on the downsizing of a Greek company by foreign corporate raiders in the second story and a family member who is a fascist, as well as fascist influence that is pervasive throughout the film. The second story asks the question: “When is a one-night stand more than a one-night stand?” and is played beautiful by “Giorgos” (Christopher Papakaliatis) and “Elise” (Andrea Osvart). Neatly tucked within this narrative is a sort of culture shock between a Northern European (cold) Elise and the Southern European Giorgos (way hot), both project a dry comic disposition that makes for a very engaging performance. This was my favorite of the sections and you will notice that I choose to expose little of this love story as want you to experience it without prior knowledge.
The third and final story centers on two older people who meet at their local Supermarket. They are spiritedly played by “Maria” (Maria Kavoyianni) and “Sebastian” (J.K. Simmons). This section is filled with humor and smacks of the human condition. Maria complains of not having enough funds to buy even the most basic groceries and Sebastian steps in as a gentleman, helping Maria out and ultimately revealing himself as something of a romantic silver fox. For me this segment although truly enjoyable felt a bit forced, but you be the judge for yourself. Equally charming and predicable perhaps the seasoned acting will make it work for you.
The film is written and directed by Christopher Papakaliatis who found inspiration for this film in the ancient Greek Myth of Eros. He also elaborates: “When people see this movie, especially in America, for the time, I hope the audiences will take away that even in the most extreme circumstances and even in the most cruel and harsh social environment, there’s always space for love. I know it’s cliché, but sometimes things that are cliché are the most timeless and true.” The film is well photographed and sensibly edited. Credit should be given to the entire cast as there is not a weak performance in this film.
If you like this recommendations: Certain Women, Chloe In The Afternoon, Bed & Board