Dir: Yannis Economides. Greece-Germany-Cyprus. 2014. 137mins
A film noir with a strong social under-current running all through it, Yannis Economides’ new film Stratos (To mikro psari) urgently tries to play his own acerbic comments on the present state of Greek affairs on an instrument that has far too many strings and seems to be never tuned properly enough to accommodate all the melodies it is supposed to sound.
All these ingredients are thrown into the same pot, but what comes out is a series of righteous statements tied together by several, vastly overlong, intersecting and highly defused plots.
Economides deals with a society whose collapsing economy has had a disastrous impact on its moral standards, but this time, he gets lost in a script moving all over the place, with characters unburdening themselves with high-pitched invectives delivered at the top of their voices, which seem to be one of the director’s favorite ways of reflecting the standards of the Greek society these days.
Stratos (played by Vangelis Mouroukis, whose chiseled face bears a frozen expression that never changes), is a hit man working night shifts, to hide his identity, in a bakery. In the daytime, he goes around shooting people and being generously paid by his employer, only known as the Painter( Yannis Anastasakis). A murderer who paid his dues in prison, he was rescued from the wrath of the other inmates by an underground boss.
Once outside, all the money he makes, and there’s lots of it, goes to the boss’ brother, Yorgos (Yannis Tsortekis) who claims the tunnel he is digging under the jail will help restore his sibling’s freedom. In daytime, he looks like the mildest and meekest person around, his only friends being the neighbors living across the street, a crippled midget, Makis (Petros Zervos), his gorgeous blonde wife Vicky (Vicky Papadopoulou), their daughter and an ailing grandfather.
In addition, there is also a perverse Mafioso who desperately wants to draft Stratos into his gang for unspecified reasons, but who also fancies brutalising prostitutes and having sex with underage girls.
All these ingredients are thrown into the same pot, but what comes out is a series of righteous statements tied together by several, vastly overlong, intersecting and highly defused plots, which are never explored on their own and don’t always make much sense. The whole point of a scene is often purposely delayed, to keep audiences wondering what exactly is happening on screen and why. And if Stratos himself hardly speaks all through the film, the others, addressing him, seem fascinated by the sound of their own voices and never fail to state their cases twice or more, just to make sure they have not been misunderstood.
The whole point of the confusing narratives strewn accidentally together here is obviously intended to show a world devoured by corruption, deceit and brutal arrogance, with an economy in such a disastrous state that moral standards are determined only by paychecks. No wonder that a murderer killing for money, but with a conscience to guide his steps, is the only person to respect and admire.
Production companies: Faliro House Productions, Argonauts, The Match Factory, Yannis Economides Films
International Sales: The Match Factory, www.the-match-factory.com
Producers: Christos Konstantakopoulos, Panos Papahadzis, Michael Webber, Harry Lagoussis
Screenplay: Yannois Economides, Thanos Xiros, Vangelis Mourikis, Christos Konstantakopoulos
Editor: Yannis Chalkiadakis
Production designer: Ioulia Stavridou
Music: Yannis Pamoukis
Main cast: Vangelis Mourikis, Petros Zervos, Vicki Papadopoulou, Yannis Tsortekis, Yorgos Yannopoulos, Yanis Anastasakis, Polian Dellatola, Sonia Theodoridou, Popi Tsapanidou