Attenberg (DVD Review)12 Jun, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff
Box Office $0.02 million
In Greek with English subtitles.
Stars Ariane Labed, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou, Yorgos Lanthimos.
The opening scene of Attenberg is just bizarre enough to keep you interested in watching what happens next. A more experienced woman attempts to give another young lady a lesson in French kissing, which is both awkward and repulsive to both parties as they stand, mouths agape, tongues writhing haphazardly. Apparently, nothing is off limits for best friends Bella (Evangelia Randou) and Marina (Ariane Labed), her inquisitive counterpart.
Marina, who has a general disdain for people, confides in Bella that she’s drawn to the female form, but not in a sexual way. She says she prefers men and eventually finds one, an engineer (Giorgos Lanthimos), to experiment with. The dawn of Marina’s sexual awakening peaks at a seemingly inconvenient time.
She’s taking care of her terminally ill father, Spyros (Vangelis Mourikis), in his final days. The two have a close but strange bond, wherein they freely swear and make crass statements like they’re drinking buddies and not a father and daughter. Spyros’ sharing his posthumous wishes so matter-of-factly upsets Marina, and these moments bring a humanness to the young woman, who seems so blasé about everything.
Interspersed between significant moments in the film are peculiar but comical scenes of Marina and Bella prancing up and down a walkway, dressed in matching dresses and boots, executing outlandish, synchronized movements. I’m not sure if these scenes have some deeper, profound meaning, but to me they’re a much-needed break from the drabness found in the factory town.
Attenberg at times seems all over the place, which is a nice change of pace from some filmmakers who do all the thinking for the viewer. Marina’s uncouth approach to relationships is amusing (it’s as if she relies on nature programs about wild animals to inform her behavior) and is executed skillfully by Labed.