Feeling foreign in his own country, Aris, a Greek, struggles for his survival as an individual and a citizen. We thought the greatest good of Lines (Grammes), 2017, a vitriolic essay on the tragedy of a country left abandoned and favoring only the few prototypes of dictators who have nothing to wax from the people.
The same commitment lies in Exile (Exoría), 2019, but unlike Lines, with a clear tone that hides the tragedy (impossible to avoid in the psyche of Greek artists) of the talk. Here, Vassilis Mazomemos plays hide-and-seek with the viewer, leading him into universes that often border the grand-guignolesque, the serious, the dramatic, the incomprehensible, sometimes giving him doses of humor camp that some will enjoy. Homoerotism is very present. One of the scenes shows the anti-hero (a kind of “Spartan Warrior” or Robinson Crusoe Jules-Vernian – we will see that Verne admired Daniel Defoe), naked, back pounding us. A sort of tribute to the Greek statues of the Hellenic period, which the actor Stefanos Kakavoulis displays in detail with great care. It is in this spirit of return to an elegiac era that the filmmaker seems to be heading into this film about physical and inner exile. There is also a completely assumed bias in the staging. Lit, day (opposite Lines, gray, night, dark), under the sun of lead or internal places where light does not hide any element, leaving nothing to chance. Could we talk about a claim from Mazomenos? A claim to its own history, the re-appropriation of the Old Civilization, a fight against a rather disorderly political contemporaneity – and perhaps, I say quite well, against a Christian orthodoxy that changed everything in the name of an autocratic monotheism. If Lines were divided into seven parts of approximately equal duration, Exile follows a man’s path through the various stages of his identity hike. Most of the film is in English, with dialogues in Arabic (Farsi?) and some sentences in Greek. The newcomers brought their cultures and customs (not to mention their religions). Have they adapted to a Greece unable to take on refugees – an economic crisis is forcing? This is not very clear in Exile, the filmmaker preferring to rely on vague ideas on the issue. Is it reassuring, prudent, or simply daring to go into diatribes? Once again, as we expressed in our criticism of Lines, Vassilis Mazomenos wrestles from the inside, leads a fight in full lung through a non-mainstream cinema, where the metaphor prevails over the ready-to-wear, even if the viewer fails to indignate him. Hence, an intentional and blatant direction of actors, left to themselves. Improvisation is common, as if it were a theatrical Happening led by a team in delirium. To give the stage (here, places), the possibilities it gives to the actors, transgression in movements, unbridled sexuality (even though, on this point, other national cinématographies go a little further) and, more than anything, an experienced freedom. Beautiful collaboration between an inspired artistic team: the image of Fotis Mitsis adequately occupies the circumference of spaces, even if the fixed plane dominates and the camera’s device travels little or not; the installation of Kostas Tataroglou allows this tote to express its total independence; as for the artistic direction of Dimitra Panagiotopoulou, she transitions between pastel tones the fair show and a clear predilection for the absurd of Ionesco. The musical tones of Mihalis Nivolianitis and Alexandros Christaras (same in Lines) give the whole an atmosphere of change of scenery, remoteness, even isolation.