Xenia (2014)

xenia

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Two brothers search for their identity in this riveting Greek drama from director Panos H. Koutras.

Greek-Albanian teenager Dany has been suffering a bit since his mother Jenny passed away. Seen as an outcast because of the fact he’s half-Albanian and gay, he decides to go to Athens to find his older brother Ody to give him the news of Jenny’s death in person. Ody is shocked to see Dany and is even more upset when he hears the news. Dany comes up with the idea to track down their father after Dany learns that he has changed his name and is apparently a big shot in Thessaloniki.

Ody’s dream is to follow in Jenny’s footsteps and become a singer. His only chance is to audition for the show “Greek Star”. All Dany wants is to be acknowledged by their father so they can get their Greek citizenship because Jenny had lost her residence status prior to her death, which puts Ody, who is about to turn eighteen, at risk of being deported. The brothers go through many obstacles in hopes to find their father. But at what price will it cost them when some opportunities arrive?

This Greek drama is quite fascinating in the vein that despite some of the marketing, isn’t really a film with LGBTQ overtones. One of the few scenes that involved the stereotypical trend of the LGBTQ market is the film’s opening scene, which introduces us to sixteen-year old Dany, wonderfully played by Kostas Nikouli. However, the scene is cut short when Dany’s rabbit Dido forces Dany and his partner to be interrupted.

The film’s central theme is more about identity. The relationship between the brothers Dany and Ody is quite complicated. However, the chemistry between Nikouli and co-star Nikos Gelia looks to have that natural feel to it. It makes the audience want to relate to them as we see them struggle with not only trying to find their father, but the effects of being half-Albanian and in Dany’s case, being gay makes the brothers a target for pure Greeks. In one shocking scene, Dany finds himself arrested after standing up for himself and a victimized Albanian woman from a gang of motorcycle riding fascists.

There are a few more shocking moments in the film, including Dany brandishing a gun and having some strange vivid dreams that do bring that stereotypical LGBTQ trend on his behalf. Ody finds himself attracted to Maria-Sonia, who like Ody, is an aspiring singer. They share a tender moment together where it’s revealed Maria is also like Ody in another way, again dealing with the topic of identity. The third act has the pivotal moment and what happens when Dany has the chance to finally meet his father but what happens when he gets there. It becomes another shocking moment that leads to something unexpected and not so much predictable but still shocking nonetheless.

Xenia is a very character driven film about identity with Kostas Nikouli and Nikos Gelia having natural chemistry as two brothers are trying to find their own identities as well as searching for their father. Some surprise moments make this a film worth checking out.

WFG RATING: A

Strand Releasing presents a 100% Synthetic Films and Wrong Men production in association with Movie Partners in Motion Film, Entre Chien en Loup, Arte France Cinema, Greek Film Center, L’Aide aux Cinemas du Monde, Eurimages, CNC, and Centre de Cinema et de l’Audiovisuel de la Federation Wallonie-Bruxelles. Director: Panos H. Koutras. Producers: Panos H. Koutras, Eleni Kossyfidou, and Alexandra Boussiou. Writers: Panos H. Kourtas and Panagiotis Evangelidis. Cinematography: Helene Louvart and Simos Sarketzis. Editing: Yorgos Lamprinos.

Cast: Kostas Nikouli, Nikos Gelia, Yannis Stankoglou, Marissa Triantafyllidou, Romanna Lobach, Aggelos Papadimitrou, Mohamed Alhanini, Ioulios Tziatas, Electra Leda Koutra, Konstantinos Georgopoulos, Patty Pravo.

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