Dir:Pantelis Voulgaris. Gr. 2004. 128mins
Greekveteran Pantelis Voulgaris takes audiences on a long, slow voyage in Brideswhich, while mostly shot in English, is unlikely to travel far from its homeport for overseas markets.
WithBarbara De Fina and Martin Scorsese as producer and executive producerrespectively, the film might attract international attention, but distributorswill have a hard time selling this old-fashioned emigrant tale to audiencesbeyond Greece. Though theatrical prospects seem limited, the attractiveproduction might have a life on TV.
Thehistorical reality of thousands of mail order brides coming to America in 1922to marry emigrant workers may initially seem quite fascinating, but after apromising start Brides becomes static and leaves audiences as unmoved asthe sea.
Voulgaris,in his 10th film, revisits themes of national identity and humanism. Thecentral character is the seamstress Niki (Haralabidou), who is sent from herremote Greek island home by her family in order to take her sister's place asthe wife of a Greek tailor in Chicago. She is just one of 700 brides fromaround Europe heading for the Promised Land - and husbands they have never met.
Onceon the third class deck of the SS King Alexander it quickly becomes evidentthat not all the matchmakers (or marriage counsellors) have the girls' bestinterests in mind. That Steven Berkoff's Georgian Karaboulat is the worsthardly comes as a surprise.
Aknight in shining armour comes in the shape of American photographer NormanHarris (Lewis), on his way home after failing to interest newspapers in hisphoto reports from the Greek-Turkish war. Attracted to the headstrong Niki, hehelps her secure a job on the first class deck sewing dresses for the ladies.He then uses the excuse of trying to shoot all the brides in their gowns as away to see her more regularly, resulting in beautiful images if little drama.
Ratherthe real standouts are the images and atmosphere created the third deck of theship - but the fact that the ship is crossing an Atlantic Ocean as calm as amovie set quickly breaks any illusion.
WhileLewis struggles with his ultimately dull photographer, Haralabidou's makes fora both feisty and captivating Niki.
Prodcos: AlcoFilms, Cappa, De Fina Productions, KG Productions, Cinegram, Greek Film Centre,C.L. Productions, Odeon, Alpha TV, Lexicon Factory, Filmnet
Int'l sales: Bristol Media Int'l
Exec prod: MartinScorsese
Prod: BarbaraDe Fina, Pantelis Voulgaris, Terry Dougas
Prod des: DimitrisKatsikis
Main cast: DamianLewis, Victoria Haralabidou, Andrea Fereol, Evi Saoulidou, Dimitris Katalifos