Suntan

 

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An uncompromising portrait of a man who cannot accept his middle-aged self.

 
Suntan

Makis Papadimitriou

  

This film opens in winter when Kostis (Makis Papadimitriou) arrives on the Greek island of Antiparos. He is a doctor in his forties who is taking up a post there having seemingly had a troubled past in personal terms and perhaps in professional terms too (details are not vouchsafed). Whatever the cause, he is now at a crisis point in his life trying to hang on to a youthful outlook even though his age and his appearance show that this is folly.

 

Before long the film moves on to the summer and to the month of August when the island is transformed by the tourism that keeps it going. Young people with a hedonistic outlook are drawn there to live it up lured equally by the opportunities for partying and by the nudist beaches. One such visitor is Anna (Elli Tringou) who comes for a month with friends and promptly adopts a flirtatious manner with the doctor when she becomes his patient following an accident on a bike. Until now, Kostis has seemed as withdrawn as the initially spartan island but with the arrival of the visitors he is drawn into their world.

 

The Greek light of summer that floods the film seduces the doctor into joining in the life style of these visitors despite being old enough to be their father. Worse still, his increasing infatuation with Anna leads him to see her as the answer to his problems. Consequently he declares his love for her not realising that for her there has been nothing serious about their flirtation.

 

Argyris Papadimitropoulos, who directed Suntan and co-wrote it with one of the actors, Syllas Tzoumerkas, has done a good job all round and, if the colour photography is a key ingredient in capturing the atmosphere, he has no less importantly obtained a remarkable performance from his lead actor. Critics sometimes describe players in sex dramas as being brave regarding nudity when in truth what they do could just as well feed some self-gratifying narcissism. But Makis Papadimitriou's utterly convincing portrayal of Kostis truly is a brave performance since, while the audience can understand what drives the doctor, his failure to face up to middle age renders him a pathetic and even tragic figure - and that is something from which the actor never shies away. Although the film may be said to celebrate young flesh (it never seeks to condemn the quest for pleasure by the youngsters), Suntan is essentially an unsparing portrait of a man drawn to extremes on account of his inability to accept himself as being no longer young. The film's concentration on this one theme makes for a limited work, but within that sphere it rings true thanks not least to the willingness of Makis Papadimitriou not to spare himself.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Makis Papadimitriou, Elli Tringou, Hara Kotsali, Milou Van Groesen, Dimi Hart, Marcus Collen, Yannis Tsortekis, Pavlos Orkopoulos, Syllas Tzoumerkas, Yannis Economides, Kostas Gouzelis.

 

Dir Argyris Papadimitropoulos, Pro Phaedra Vokali and Argyris Papadimitropoulos, Screenplay Argyris Papadimitropoulos and Syllas Tzoumerkas, Ph Christos Karamanis, Pro Des Aliki Kouvaka, Ed Napoleon Stratogiannakis, Music Felizol, Costumes Marli Aliferi.

 

Faliro House/Marni Films/Oxymoron Films/EPT/FassB Film/Nova Foss Productions-Eureka Entertainment.
104 mins. Greece/Germany. 2016. Rel: 28 April 2017. Cert. 18.