2 November 2014 | peapulation
A modern Greek tragedy
A gem of modern Greek independent cinema. Love disturbs the dangerous balance of violent lives in The Sentimentalists by Nicholas Triandafyllidis, presented in the Autumn section of the 2014 Raindance Film Festival.
Two hit men fall in love with two forbidden women. One falls for a prostitute and the other one for his boss' daughter. Love is, from the get go, synonymous with tragedy and much like the film noirs of old conveys the self destructive nature of criminal characters. The film, in fact, begins with the sudden murder of one of the hit men - interrupting his casual romantic date with his girl. From there, we backtrack to a couple of days before the events and are introduced to the Greek gangland.
An overprotective father, a manipulative pimp - they represent the obstacles in the film's romance. Because this film has much more to do with oniric and graceful romance than modern gangster flicks. It is a film full of vulnerabilities of sweetness. This is shown by the soft lighting which sometimes even slips to the old fashioned soft focus of pre-code era Hollywood. A particular attention to the pacing and rhythm of the film, much slower than one would expect, and a fluid camera- work also make the experience magnetic in a quasi- spiritual way. It is concealed by the nostalgic soundtrack, with old songs punctuated by the crackling of vinyl records and the gently tapping of the fingers on the keyboard of a piano. Even on a sexual perspective, love making and adoration is portrayed by the attention given to feet. Here, this visual touch is not at all fetishistic, but rather a sign of vulnerability and helplessness.
Nevertheless, love that lives in a world of violence is born to die. And despite the well meant romanticism and the dream like appeal of the film, self destruction remains the constant drug. One of the hit men is a loose cannon and has less control on his life also due to his vices and alcohol abuse. The other one is much more collected, yet his love for his boss' daughter is a magnificent obsession he clearly cannot do without. The Sentimentalists is in fact a modern noir, and as such it ties in the nostalgia identified with the genre without disregarding the influence of the times it is set in - including the crippling economic crisis that hit Greece so hard.