Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Starring: Ariane labed, Giorgos Lanthimos, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou
Duration: 95 min.
Marina is an eccentric woman in her early 20's who lives with her father, an architect suffering from an advanced stage of cancer. She views the world and the rest of humanity with a sense of detachment, and a strange curiosity learned from watching the documentaries of David Attenborough.
Attenberg is a film written and directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari. It premiered at the 2010 Venice Film Festival, where Ariane Labed was awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actress. It has also been selected as Greece's entry to the 84th (2012) Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. The title comes from the mispronunciation of Attenborough, whose documentaries shape the world for the main character Marina.
All discussions of this film are bound to generate comparisons with Giorgos Lanthimos' 2009 Cannes Un Certain Regard prize winner Dogtooth. Indeed, they share more similarity than just being films from Greece. The director of this was as associate producer on Dogtooth, and Lanthimos is one of the main cast members in Attenberg. Director of Photography Thimios Bakatakis also worked on both films.
Therefore it is no surprise that Attenberg looks and feels very much the same stylistically. Even the long stationary camera takes, the main character with undeveloped and awkward social skills, and the strange unnatural acting style. But the themes are different here, as the story is about a young woman slowly finding her way. She looks after her dying father, hangs out with her only friend, listens to 70's art punk rockers Suicide as she works as a driver for the local factory, and experiments socially and sexually with a worker from out of town. Ariane Labed handles the role very well, and really makes this complex character captivating to watch.
The grey and depressing industrial town where they live serves as an interesting backdrop, and the cinematography often lingers on perfectly framed shots of the decrepit surroundings. But there isn't much of a narrative, rather the film feels like a bunch of random sequences filmed with an experimental laboratory like feel. It does have some fascinating and cheerful scenes though, especially those of Marina and her friend Bella, walking arm in arm down the street and wearing identical but different colored dresses, as they break out into strange semi-choreographed dances and poses, or sing along to a Françoise Hardy song from the 60's.
With Attenberg, Tsangari delivers a unique and thought provoking take on the coming of age tale, and looks to be an important player in what is shaping up to be a New Wave of Greek Cinema.