Attenberg

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One of the things I love about Sight and Sound magazine is that you can get two different perspectives on a film within the same edition. In the Oct 2011 publication Attenberg is described by Lisa Mullen as follows:-

A simple summary of the plot makes the film sound like the demented hybrid of a sensitive coming of age story and The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) – but it’s not even as sensible as that. The laboured set-up is really just an excuse for a series of strange and disturbing vignettes. Some of them … seem like acting exercises from a particularly pretentious drama class; others .. promise an emotional maturity the rest of the film fails – in fact doesn’t even try – to deliver.

In the same edition, an in depth piece by Jonathan Romney is headed:-

In an extraordinary new Greek film ‘Attenberg’ a woman fascinated by David Attenborough’s nature programmes confronts the mysteries of human behaviour.

Although, it is fair to state that Romney is to some extent ‘bewildered’ by the film:-

…it comes as a bracing shock to find yourself genuinely stymied by a film. This has happened to me with Attenberg.

Dave Calhoun in Time Out says:-

To enjoy ‘Attenberg’, you have to tune in to an unusual wavelength, but there are strange pleasures to enjoy.

Peter Bradshaw’s review comes closer to my own reaction:-

Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg is an angular, complex, absorbing and obscurely troubling movie… Attenberg is an intriguing film, composed with real visual flair.

One of the tests of a good film, for me, is how it matures in the memory. Attenberg has insistently replayed itself in my head, and for the right reasons… Its strangeness, its boldness, and its refusal to answer all the questions it raises, make for a rewarding cinematic experience.

There are clear links with this film and the recent critically acclaimed Dogtooth. Bradshaw again:-

Tsangari [the director] was a producer on Giorgios Lanthimos’s disturbing award-winner Dogtooth; …and the movies share a cinematographer: Thimios Bakatakis. The resemblances between the two are striking, particularly their demystified, almost counter-erotic nudity and sex scenes…

Attenberg is definitely its own film, but if you enjoyed Dogtooth, or if you simply want to see what all the talk about modern Greek film is about – just give this rather unusual offering a go. Whatever your reaction, you’ll probably not remain indifferent.

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