Saturday, 23 February 2019

Pity [2018]

While modernist films may sometimes appear weird, few have unabashedly worn that as a badge on their sleeves like the 'Greek Weird Wave', the arguably most well-known use case for which is Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth. Pity, the 2nd feature by former TV commercial-maker and Lanthimos-collaborator Babis Makridis, possesses all the archetypes that makes it an exquisite member of the afore-mentioned movement; and interrestingly, despite its tar black humour, deliriously oddball premise, undeniably formalist approach and an eccentricity-quotient that brilliantly exploded as the narrative progressed, it still had a strong emotive appeal beneath its frosty, deceptively perverse and brutal visage. Its central tenet is the universality of pity as an expression and the absurd lengths one man is willing to go to elicit and preserve that. The film’s unnamed protagonist (fabulously enacted by Yannis Drakopoulos) is a taciturn, middle-aged, well-to-do lawyer, whose luscious wife (Evi Saoulidou) is in coma due to an accident. He, as a result, basks at the oodles of pity and sympathy that he gets from all – his neighbor, dry cleaner, secretary, dad, friends, a client whose father has been murdered and even a stranger he encounters in the hospital where his wife is admitted. Things, however, take a darkly funny downturn when his wife suddenly gets cured and returns home; while everyone is happy, he goes into a deep existential crisis and begins lying and prevaricating as well as coaxing and cajoling to keep eliciting pity. But, when his efforts cease engendering the desired results, he starts taking elaborate steps – from the sinister to the shocking – in this delicious, slow-burning black comedy, with its luminous photography providing excellent juxtaposition to its increasingly disconcerting proceedings.

Director: Babis Makridis
Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire
Language: Greek
Country: Greece


Chris said...

Good to see you back writing about cinema again! Sometimes the lesser known films actually have more originality and daring than the hyped stuff(The Favourite).

Pity is not going to be a crowd-pleaser as it's not traditionally entertaining, but I agree about the emotive appeal beneath its frosty visage and Drakopoulos plays it well.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Chris - good to hear from you after a long time. Yeah, great to be back after being "out of action", so to speak, for more than 2 years.

Pity sure is anything but a crowd-pleaser - it's sure to alienate more than most. The premise was intriguing enough to give it a go on Mubi, and I'm glad I did. What a deliciously unconventional film this is! Haven't seen The Favourite though.