“Suntan” is an understatement for this Greek film. The disaster that enfolds in front of your eyes makes the name of the film “Sunburn” and it is a tragedy that has a finger wagging and a voice saying , “Don’t play with me or you’re playing with fire” like in a Rolling Stones song.
Kostis Makridis is to be the new town doctor in a small town on a Greek island. It is a position with the respect and gratitude of the town’s population if it is cultivated. As the mayor says welcoming Kostis it is a small town where everyone in the 800-person village knows each other by name. Now this means everyone knows each other’s business. Kostis arrives on a grey damp day near Christmas and this is a season where a tourist vibrant town shuts down when the tourists leave and times are tough as without tourism the town’s economy also stalls and that is the way for many Greek islands.
Kostis makes no sincere effort to fit in remaining on the fringes. For many the quiet winter might be a time for reflection and reading, writing and long walks to enjoy before the summer explosion.
Kostis is fat, short and not a particularly good-looking man. In his 40’s it is as if life is passing before his eyes. Kostis comes alive after meeting young Anna who is hanging out with a hedonistic crowd that has a priority of partying to excess, fornication , drinking and frolicking around on a nude beach. Anna has had a spill on a motorcycle and the minor injury is attended to by Kostis who receives an invitation to attend with this unruly, disrespecting and immature crowd to the nude beach.
His interest in Anna progresses nicely, at least in his mind. Anna is only concerned with her own pleasure like a selfish child. Kostis falls deeper in love in his singular mind failing to recognize Anna is only here in the present moment and a true relationship is impossible.
Kostis becomes obsessed with Anna and gets drawn into her make-believe world that life is a party ignoring his practice drawing the ire of the villagers. He starts getting more involved with her hedonistic crowd going further towards the edge out of sync with youthful hedonism.
After “consummating’ his relationship with Anna his obsession with Anna increases but anyone with his faculties about them would realize Anna only know a good time and Kostis is simply past tense in the good time narrative. The film careens to a tragic conclusion.
One could wax about the follies of youth but there is also the folly of a man twice the age of Anna attempting to establish a traditional relationship with Anna. That is the beginning of the end.
A message for those who are disgusted with the lewd and irresponsible behaviours of the young tourist interested selfishly in nothing but a good time living it up in a fantasy world of sex, booze and clubs. It is all about me me me. Sympathy out to the inhabitants of party central having to put up with thousands of drunken spoilt brats for income. Slaves to decadence? As a last note in my early trips to Greece in 1970, 1971 and 1972 I traveled with the young crowd that behaved respectfully. Times have changed and many Greek islands are just another Malagouf.
Makis Papadimitriou as Kostis plays his role as an outsider to a deranged stalker with aplomb and Elli Tringou shines as the flirty and self-obsessed nymph unaware of the peril facing her.
It is no surprise this painful 2016 movie won 6 Hellenic Film Academy Awards including best film, director and actor. Directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos.
The films are presented by the Hellenic Film Society USA monthly “Greek Films on Demand” and can be streamed virtually from May 6-15. For more information www.hellenicfilmusa.org. You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmFfu_30a8s