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Review: Blackmail Boy

Blackmail Boy

Christos (Yannis Tsimitselis) walks into a room and all eyes are on him. Indeed, every man and woman in the dysfunctional Greek town this usually hairless piece of Mediterranean man meat calls home seems to like what they see. But what are they attracted to exactly? Perhaps it’s his post-cherub mug (he could be a distant relative of Pierre Chatagny’s garcon stupide), which must have similarly caught the attention of Picture This! Entertainment’s distribution committee, because how else does one explain why Michalis Reppas and Thansassis Papathanasiou’s crude and insipid melodrama was picked up unless the company’s stock-holding queens were blinded by the perpetual sight of Tsimitselis in his skivvies?

Like Law of Desire, Blackmail Boy’s action pivots around the wants of an obscure object of desire, but Reppas and Papathanasiou’s evocation of ideas is a dry hump compared to the wet dream of Almodóvar’s 1987 masterpiece. In the past, a car accident left Christos’s sister dead and his comatose father dependent on a respirator for the rest of his life. In the present, the father serves as something of a Greek chorus (his there-but-not-there disconnect is conveyed courtesy of the worst contact lenses in the world), observing his money-starved family self-destruct from his corner of the house: his wife Magda (Nena Mendi) is not only sleeping with their stingy daughter’s husband, Stelios (Alexis Georgoulis), but also appears to be conspiring with him to steal money and land away from a local businessman.

How Christos fits into their scheme is a mystery the filmmakers don’t care to unpack or connect to the boy’s notions of love and resentment. The story is hazy and apathetic—it’s unclear who exactly is involved in blackmailing Yiorgos (Akyllas Karazisis) and to what extent the script’s obsession with money and grade-school chemistry (namely how oxygen is processed by the human body) addresses the tribulations of a modern Greek nation—which wouldn’t be so distressing if the film’s sex scenes weren’t as bizarre and uncomfortable as Reppas and Papathanasiou’s direction. “It’s not very artistic, but it does the trick,” says Stelios to Yiorgos at one point. He could be referring to the film itself, except the only trick the filmmakers pull off is wasting a perfectly cute Tsimitselis on a pair of underwear two sizes too big.

Cast: Nena Mendi, Maria Kavoyianni, Akyllas Karazisis, Yannis Tsimitselis, Alexis Georgoulis, Jeannie Papadopoulou, Joyce Evidi, Alexandros Antonopoulos, Anna Kyriakou Director: Michalis Reppas, Thansassis Papathanasiou Screenwriter: Michalis Reppas, Thansassis Papathanasiou Distributor: Picture This! Running Time: 100 min Rating: NR Year: 2003 Buy: Video

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