Details: 91 mins, Greece, English
Synopsis: What is the true story of Adam and Eve? What was the role of Toula in the creation of the world? Is it true that God created us in 'pairs' of two? How far will we go until we find our other half? Faidon (Krateros Katsoulis) and Vicky (Dafni Lamprogianni) never wondered about all that. Successful couples' therapists, husband and wife, they preached the affirmative belief that our ideal pair is made, not found. Till they met a couple different than the rest...
Crass relationships comedy is sorely lacking in wit.
GREEK FILM FESTIVAL: It’s billed as a romantic comedy but there’s a murder-suicide in the opening minutes of Greek director Vangelis Seitanidis’ Other Half.
Which raises the question: Is this an example of the mordant humour of Seitanidis and screenwriter Panagiotis Christopoulos, or a clumsy, misguided attempt to make light of a tragedy?
The latter is the inescapable conclusion as what follows is a corny, crass, amateurish and almost totally mirthless caper about dysfunctional relationships.
Krateros Katsoulis and Dafni Lamprogianni play Phaidon and Vicky, a married couple who are marriage guidance counsellors. Not terribly successful ones, judging by the fact they were dispensing advice to Phaidon’s aunt and uncle before the aunt shoots her husband and then herself, evidently because he was glued to the TV and made the fatal mistake of ignoring her.
At the funeral they meet Marina (Katerina Papoutsakis) and Zacharia (Vladimir Kyriakides), a feuding couple perhaps modelled on the combatants in The War of the Roses or The Taming of the Shrew, who live in a tumble-down house in the country owned by the aunt and uncle. The house is bequeathed to Phaidon and Vicky, which later causes complications.
Marina angrily accuses the couple of causing the old folks’ deaths before, inexplicably, they all become firm friends and Marina and Zacharia enlist the help of the counsellors to try to patch up their flailing marriage.
Therapy sessions with other couples, including gays, are pointless and as poorly written and lacking in humour as the rest of the movie.
Phaidon and Vicky, who’ve been married for nearly 15 years, seem happy even though they sleep in separate beds for no apparent reason. But they start to question their relationship as they fall under the influence of Marina and Zacharia.
A recurring fantasy sequence involving Adam and Eve talking to the booming voice of God in the Garden of Eden is cringe-making. Eve utters inanities such as “What kind of dump is this?” and “Where do I leave my shit?” When they quarrel, “God” warns there will be no divorce and declares, “Who therefore God join (sic) together… I don’t remember the rest… I don’t give a shit.”
Typifying the lowbrow attempts at levity, an elderly woman who’s splashed by a passing car yells “Fuck off” and the insanely jealous Marina shows her displeasure with her husband by grabbing his hair and violently shaking his head.
The tone is often tasteless, as when it’s revealed that Phaidon and Vicky’s nine-year-old son has a toilet fixation (“all family ties have been centred on the sphincter,” his teacher explains helpfully) and Vicky’s sister Alice has a fling with a priest.
Without exception, the performances are melodramatic, with much mugging, shrieking, tantrums and rolling of eyes. Papoutsakis’ histrionics aren’t in the least amusing.
According to the director’s biography, he’s written books on Wim Wenders and Robert Altman as well as the screenplay for Nikos Panayotopoulos’ Beautiful People (2001). His films include Ghost of a Chance (2001), Face Control (which screened at the Greek Film Festival in 2006) and Under Your Make-up (2009).
I’ve not seen those works but Other Half surely represents a low point in his career.
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