Marina Kalogirou & Anna Mouglalis in “Alithini Zoi” [Greece, France 2004]

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Watching Panos H. Koutras’s Greek fantasy drama “Alithini Zoi” [Eng. Title: Real Life] was an exotic and sometimes surreal experience as it swung back and forth from melodrama and romantic fantasy. It was refreshing nevertheless, even thrilling at times, even though what originally drove me to purchase a DVD was an underwater scene involving the rather cute Marina Kalogirou, and the fact that Anna Mouglalis also makes an appearance (in the nude as well).

The film itself is interesting to watch despite its minor shortcomings (mostly editing) – but then again it is a commercial film that’s not really meant to be taken too seriously. Having said that, the direction is stylish, and performances by all the main actors are of high standard, particularly that of Mlle. Mouglalis.

The film is made of three parts – In the first we see rich kid Aris returning home after some kind of drug rehabilitation – he had also ended his relationship with childhood sweetheart Joy, and is eager to start life afresh, but is also haunted by his father’s death when he was very young. He wants to know more about the circumstances, but none of them in the household, particularly his mum is interested in rekindling the past. One day, he sees Alexandra designing a store window and instantly falls in love. They connect and all seems well, until Joy turns up out of the blue, making things complicated. Alexandra decides to leave Athens and takes up the offer made by Aris’ mother (to stay away from her son for a period of time). The film then goes through several twists and turns, including some dramatic revelations about Aris’ parents, until Alexandra’s return, when we are shown their old romance is still alive.

The surreal moments include helicopters setting ablaze the Acropolis, the mysterious swimming pool at Aris‘ home that’s inhabited by a strange sea creature. I don’t know whether Koutras was trying to achieve something similar to what Julio Medem did with the island in ‘Lucía y el Sexo’ – I had to rely solely on the subtitles to tell me the story, and there may be some cultural symbolism I might have missed in the process – perhaps a Greek visitor could illuminate us at some point. The film is interesting nevertheless, and definitely worth viewing.



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