Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|A Sea Apart|
Actors: Akis Sakellariou, Ioanna Pappa, Roni Meron, Haris Giakoumatous, Peter Allas
Director: Ersi Danou
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
A Hauntingly Beautiful Film
L. Douglass | 04/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the present climate of independent films with budgets of $20 million dollars plus and the lowest common denominator barely above juvenile, A Sea Apart is a thought-provoking and intelligent independent film in the true sense of the word. Through the unique and personal vision of its very talented writer/director, Ersi Danou, the film offers a rare opportunity to experience a lyrical and poignant human story. The narrative style, like a cinematic mosaic, each delicately handled piece adding up to a sensitive and poetic whole, avoids the melodramatic or formulaic treatment common to films of this genre.
Shot on mini-DV, the beauty of the photography should put to rest any qualms that filmmakers have about using this medium. The colors are rich and clear in the exterior scenes and the interior scenes have depth and nuance.
The film opens with breathtaking shots of two gorgeous teenagers in the heat of infatuation with each other on the Greek island of Karpathos. The voice-over sets up the parallel stories of this young girl in Greece and her love affair with a young American tourist and the story of Eleni, a Greek woman who years earlier had followed her passion, married a Greek American man and left her island life behind to embrace her new life as an American wife and mother. The shots of Greece are carefully crafted to provide a stunning contrast between the culture, life and story of Sophia in the small island village (Eleni's past) and Eleni's modern life in the metropolis of Los Angeles (Eleni's present and future).
Eleni is introduced as the serene center of the family in a breakfast scene as George, her `rough around the edges' husband, her rebellious teenaged daughter and young son begin their day. However, with the surprise arrival of Eleni's childhood crush, Ari, from their island homeland, her thinly veiled feelings of resignation and unhappiness start to surface.
The artistry of the storytelling emerges when Eleni convinces George to give Ari a job as a cook at their Greek restaurant. Through a series of conversations woven through the hustle and bustle of the kitchen and restaurant, Eleni and Ari reveal their shared past, what has brought Ari to America to find her and his dreams for their future, which Eleni secretly shares.
A Sea Apart reveals itself as a complex story and skillful psychological rendering of a woman agonizingly conflicted about her own choices, about who she is and how she fits into this world that she has chosen. Juxtaposed against culturally ingrained and socially imposed restrictions, Eleni struggles with the lure of autonomy. In a volatile emotional state, she teeters on the edge of imbalance. Why doesn't Eleni leave with Ari, a man she clearly loves and who loves her? She is paralyzed with inertia, torn between her own desires, dreams and crushing feelings of guilt, duty and regret.
What makes this movie riveting, however, is the suggestion that her experience and journey would be quite different if she had been born male. The mother-in-law is the voice of tradition. Eleni returns home late after spending the afternoon and evening with Ari. Her mother-in-law chastises her for neglecting her familial duties. Eleni retaliates, stating that George is presently enjoying an overnight gambling trip to Las Vegas with friends. The mother-in-law says it all when she tells her "he can do what he wants. He is a man."
Ms. Danou has asked many questions about the female psyche in relationship to Self, relationships to others, cultural pressure and honor. She does not disappoint when she refuses to offer any solutions or show any bias. What she does do is present a hauntingly beautiful film that spawns thought, discussion and reflection and offers an opportunity for enlightenment.
The two lead actors, Tamilla Kulieva (Eleni) and Akis Sakellariou (Ari) are excellent. Kulieva gives a subtle, nuanced and touching performance. Roni Meron (Nikki) is accurate and controlled as the teenaged daughter. Peter Allas (George) is quite good as the father although at times his performance seems a bit stereotypical and predictable. However, he manages to deliver the right degree of boorishness in counterpoint to Kulieva's gracefulness. In the Greek sequences, Ionna Pappa (Sophia) and Haris Giakoumatous (Boy) exemplify the passion of young love.
This is a passionate film.
Mehera | Los Angeles, CA | 04/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was really touched by this beautiful story of young infatuation and older regret. These themes were elegantly juxtaposed. I felt the characters were realistic in their confusion and lack of easy answers to their love dilemmas. The slow pace was refreshingly "old-fashioned" while the story was one of this day...one that we can all relate to. I highly recommend this fine film!"
I LOVED THIS MOVIE !
Jay | New York, NY | 03/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As an immigrant to America, I completely related to this beautiful story. It was very well written and directed by first time feature director Ersi Danau who managed to capture the sentiment of a woman from a small island in Greece who despite living the "American dream" still secretly longs for the simple life of her childhood in paradise. I loved contrast between the scenes shot in Los Angeles and those shot in Greece. I am not sure why the last reviewer had a problem with the lighting - perhaps he just had a bad copy of the movie. The DVD copy I saw looked great. Although I am not a professional, it looked very well shot to me.
I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this film to any immigrant or anyone who wants to understand an immigrants point of view or and one who just wants to enjoy a well told character driven love story."