9 April 2013 | guchrisc
A drama about a man who loses everything.
"If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;"
(from 'If' by Rudyard Kipling)
This is a drama, not a comedy. I repeat, this is not a comedy.
This film is a film of our times. Just as is the recent 'Arbitrage' that starred Richard Gere. It could be billed as 'Arbitrage II'. This film though is not a film about the process of a fall but is rather about the aftermath.
Film opens at a very expensive house. The owner of the house also has a very expensive car, and so he should, because he is 'The European Entrepreneur of the Year'. He is Harry Papadopoulos, played by lead male Stephen Dillane. He is a self-made man who has built up his business from small beginnings. He owns popular Greek food brands but as the film opens he is on the verge of his biggest deal yet, a huge property deal. Harry has put a huge amount of borrowed money into this deal. The stock-market crashes, Harry is overextended, the business goes into administration.
Harry has a plan to borrow money to buy back his company but before that can happen his assets are seized. Rather than going through the turmoil of down-sizing, Harry ends up even worse off with no house and no car. The only asset left is his share of a chip-shop. Harry wants to sell this to start to rebuild his business empire. To do this he needs to get his brother to agree to the sale. This chip-shop is disused.
So much for the plot, but this film is not about big business, it's about people, and what people! These people are really not very nice. Harry himself is a pretty miserable, unhappy and unsympathetic figure. His children too are not very nice. There is no warmth here with these characters. They are all cold. Who cares what happens to these people? The film itself seems to be filmed rather darkly, it is not bright or light. The acting too in these early scenes seems wooden and characters seem exaggerated stereotypes.
All this changes with the entrance of Georges Corraface playing the brother Spiros Papadopolous. Now the film comes alive. Spiros is larger-than-life and a complete contrast to his bland brother Harry. While we dislike the miserable Harry, Spiros we love.
Harry is unhappy that the family has to live in the flat above the disused chip shop, while he tries to refinance his business empire. Harry is unhappy because after losing his heap of winnings, he has to start again at his beginnings, and this he does, but he does not remain silent about it.
This film is set in London, a melting-pot of immigrants. Harry with his cockney accent, is, like his brother Spiros, Greek. Now Harry has returned to the working-class area of his youth and he hates it. The themes of ethnicity, immigration and assimilation are explored as are those of being middle-class and working-class. This is a dysfunctional family with problems, now newly thrust into an old environment. Aspects of these themes are shown, sometimes with very little touches, that illustrate the changes in lifestyles. Film locations were perfect.
As said, in the earlier scenes the acting was rather wooden. The corporate figures exaggerated. This though is not important, as what this film is about, is the family. The cold air of earlier warms up. Some nice Greek music is introduced. The two brothers are played well by the two actors. Dillane playing the cold Harry has perhaps the hardest role. Corraface playing Spiros gives a tremendous performance. The children, who start this film doing some of the most irritating scenes, end up doing some rather poignant ones. All three did well.
This film is rated 15 in the UK. This is due to the bad language. Apart from children, this film with its themes of class, family and ethnicity will appeal to all. No laughs, but it is touching and thoughtful. A good film, thus 8/10.