Papadopoulos & Sons *
24 April 2013
I’m not going to dress it up; Papadopoulos & Sons is a terrible film. Yes, it improves on Movie 43 in that it does at least have a plot and it isn’t horrible, but that’s hardly a selling point.
Harry Papadoploulos (Stephen Dillane) is a Greek, self-made millionaire. The economy crumbles, the bank calls in a £300 million (!) loan and five minutes later he’s lost his food company, his mansion and his assets; everything, except a derelict fish and chip shop that he co-owns with his estranged, wayward brother, Spiros (Georges Corraface). Guess what the penniless man and his polar-opposite brother do next? Guess which life lessons we are be bashed about the head with in the process? Can you spot the subtlety? Nope. Neither can I!
Everything is played out in the most obvious manner, it is entirely predictable, almost entirely implausible and frequently possible to predict the next lines. There is no sense of realty and the criminal responsible, writer/director/producer/actor Markus Markou (director of The Last Temptation of Christ – no, not that one, just a short with a stolen title) appears to have no idea either how to salvage this mess, or that he has a mess in dire need of salvaging.
What the hell is Stephen Dillane doing in this? He isn’t Greek and he doesn’t look or sound Greek. For that matter neither do either of Harry’s sons. And as we are told that Harry’s late wife was English, why does his daughter look Greek? Did Markou forget to tell us Harry’s wife shacked up with Spiros? The only two family members who look even vaguely similar are Harry and eldest son, Frank (James Dillane – yes, well spotted!), and, funnily enough, they are the only actors who emerge with any dignity.
Dillane is a fine actor with a body of work that includes the excellent Welcome to Sarajevo and Zero Dark Thirty, so what is he doing in this mess? Was it the only opportunity to work with his son? Both Dillanes try hard but they’re paddling up stream. Everybody else seems to be acting in completely different films with varying degrees of panto-style performances. Corraface is so horribly over the top that most of the audience (all seven of us) cringed every time he laughed falsely or, worse still, attempted sincerity. As for the youngest son, Theo (Thomas Underhill), he was clearly bred in a petri dish in Hogwarts and has evolved into a horrible pastiche of Harry Potter decked out in dickie bow and a please-slap-me-repeatedly persona. Ghastly!
Virtually every character is written as a joke or inflated so heavily they bounce around the film smashing everything of decency around them. A supposedly hysterical gay couple charged with repossessing the mansion sets gay equality back thirty years, while the reason we know Sophie (Cosima Shaw) is the accountant with integrity is nothing to do with her acting (she can’t), but purely because her boss, Rob (Ed Stoppard), is such a gargantuan prick. Oh, the pain.
Markou is clueless and, even if he has worked out his screenplay stinks, he is powerless to do anything about it. You know when a director is out of his/her depth when s/he resorts to an elongated montage. In Papadopoulos & Sons Markous gives us two!
At 109 minutes, we feel every single one of them. There is no pace. The fault of both director and editor, there are pauses the size of small countries, rendering any hope of comedy through timing utterly futile.
When the mind wanders and you look along the floor for rats in the cinema to spice up the experience, all hope is gone and every error upon the screen is so jarring it might just as well be highlighted in neon and underscored with a comedy drumroll:
- The sound mix in one scene is so poor the entire audience (six of us by this time) leant forward to hear better.
- The stock footage of St Thomas’ hospital is a completely different colour to the rest of the film!
- The tax disc on the van expires in September 2010. Either it’s illegal or, more likely, it took three years to get this film on the screens, which tells you a great deal.
- The auction sign is nailed to the front door instead of the lawn at the front of the long drive.
- The gardener is chastised to using the front entrance but his wellies are spotless, not a speck of mud on them nor a smudge of dirt on the floor and yet he's been working all day.
- Where are the food factories? Did they cease trading and evaporate on one day?
- What about the actual production of fish and chips? We are meant to believe the shop has been running for months but only in the final 15 minutes do we see any evidence of this. When Markou finally does get around to showing us the hugely successful business, there are twice as many staff members as there are customers (4:2).
Not even the end is a relief. Markou has clearly attempted something rousing along the lines of Slumdog Millionaire but instead produces a scene that embarrasses (some) actors and audience alike. As with virtually every other scene, he doesn’t know when to edit. Hell, he doesn’t know how to stop and relies on the credits to finally put us out of our misery.
Oh, there is some good music.
Mystifyingly, Papadopoulos & Sons won the audience award at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. I can only assume it was up against Movie 43 and the audience consisted of Markou’s mum.
Another film review from The Squiss.
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