Saturday, October 20, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: Dead Europe (Tony Krawitz, 2012)

Dead Europe, distributed through Transmission Films, is in cinemas November 15. It is also screening on Closing Night at the Greek Film Festival on Sunday Nov. 4 at 7.00pm, and as part of the Jewish Film Festival (Sydney: Tuesday 6 Nov at 8.45pm, Event Cinemas Bondi Junction).

Dead Europe, adapted by Louise Fox from the novel of the same name by Christos Tsiolkas, tells the disturbing tale of a young Greek-Australian photographer, Isaac (Ewen Leslie, Jewboy and Sleeping Beauty), who, while attending an exhibition of his works, transports his recently deceased father’s ashes from Australia to his ancestral homeland in Greece. Visiting Europe for the first time, Isaac finds it not only a rich environment for future work, but comes to learn about his father’s sinister past involving a young Jewish boy at the end of World War II. Isaac’s world begins to unravel as he journeys from Athens to Paris to Budapest and realizes he cannot escape the ghosts of the past. There is an intense clash of inherent guilt, embedded prejudice, sordid behaviour and personal discovery.

Dead Europe is an odd film, and having not read Tsiolkas’ novel I found the narrative difficult to penetrate. The story is episodic, the developments are jarring and often lack context, and rather than simultaneously focus on the two stories – Isaac’s and his father’s – it reveals the latter almost exclusively through testimony. The information Isaac collects about his late father and his family’s past doesn’t feel earned, but falls into his lap often through inexplicable convenience and following some questionable decisions. I feel like the audience is asked to fill in the gaps themselves. Isaac comes to realize that the ghosts of his father’s past – embedded within the architecture of Europe, and the still-prevalent social issues – are making their presence felt.

Continue reading at Graffiti with Punctuation

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