Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A Girl in Black review



At its most intimate level, A girl in black is an example of a perfect story, sequential, smooth and logical. Within the first 8 minutes, you get to meet the characters that are going to matter, you get the setting and the plot begins to unfold. A magical yarn keeps all of these intact unless we get introduced to the big conflict and for the rest of it, your heart yearns for the resolution.

Marina (Ellie Lambeti) is the daughter of a pro-war influential family but one that is facing tough times now. The family has witnessed it all- death, misery, lust, shame and humiliation. To add to it, it has become poor and so it has to rent out some of the rooms of its big ancestral house to the tourists who visit their island town. Enter Pavlos (Dimitris Horn) along with his friend to fill that position. He immediately takes to Marina. “People say he is a playboy” wonders Marina’s brother who is thoughtless and impulsive as he worries for his sister’s reputation. We don’t know it yet. Maybe Pavlos is really having one of those summer affairs; maybe he really cares for Marina. As for her, she is initially cautious of Pavlos but gives in to her feelings as she gives in to the struggle her life has become. Then strikes the real conflict and changes everything. The movie is then about what comes out as the consequence of this love affair and of a joke some thugs try to play on the duo.

Stories like this always progress through a basic element. Here, it is Marina’s character that does the job. Beneath that sadness and misery, you can still see the woman the word ‘ravishing’ was actually coined for. She is serene, she is beautiful and pretty is an understatement. “You’re pretty enough for the two of us”, her sister tells her. She feels it’s her beauty that is the reason of her unhappiness. She longs for a respite from it; she wants to be free. “If only we could live without fear for a day, just time enough for a walk”, is all she asks for. And our hero promises to give her that. We feel a connection with Marina in the way our lives are chained like her, only to a lesser degree and how we too long for that day when things will become alright. So we sit through the film, desperately waiting for a culmination we feel Marina deserves but know she wouldn’t get.

Mihalis Kakogiannis has shot the film with tremendous transitions of space and background. One moment we are glancing at huge landscapes and buildings and the sea behind the characters while the next moment, they are confined to the spaces of an old, rusty, dark room. He takes care how all the important conversations take place in isolation, producing dramatic effects and highlighting them with the use of an angled camera. Another soothing feature of the film is the music by Arghyris Kounadis. Seldom does it happen to me that I don’t understand the lyrics but still love a song and still the film succeeds in doing just that with its very first song set during the casting credits at the beginning.

A girl in black is one of those films that do not merely pretend to show the sorrows of life but actually portray a relatable story on the screen.

Bandwidth verdict- The film is highly recommended for a viewing. But watch it in one go only.

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