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An Athens-set crime flick whose nighttime urban visions and portentous mood demonstrate a strong debt to Michael Mann, Wednesday 04:45 observes a nightclub owner’s most desperate hours without quite managing to make the viewer share in that desperation. Often great-looking but not as persuasive as Mann’s best work, Alexis Alexiou‘s sophomore feature benefits from local color and allusions to recent events, but has limited import value in the States.
Stelios Manias plays Stelios, a serious jazz lover whose dream of running a music venue is crumbling during the onset of Greece’s debt crisis. He owes a fortune to a creep called The Romanian, the club isn’t earning enough to make payments, and this loan shark has decided to put a Eurozone-sized foot down: Stelios has a day to pay him back in full.
While Stelios hustles around town trying to collect small sums that others owe him, he gets a competing ultimatum from his wife, who expects him to finally make good on a promise to participate in their child’s school life. He fully intends to, but it’s clear which issue is going to take priority today, even without the increasing violence he’s witnessing and the ominous favors he’s being asked to perform by The Romanian’s associates.
Manias has little trouble projecting the insomniac affect of a man whose stress level is so high his hair is falling out, but the direction and editing don’t generate the crackling tension that would put us in his shoes. Confrontations between the character and his wife have an airless, extraneous feel, and some repeated motifs — especially shots of untied shoelaces — fail to add up to much. (Alexiou also has a fetish for cars’ turn signals and hazard lights, which click-click-click away in the background.) Some viewers may be tempted to go along with the noirish tale, but those on the fence will likely fall off in laughter when the director stages his climactic business meeting on a rooftop in the rain. A slo-mo downpour may be good for the clichéd gunplay the film has in store, but it’s less conducive to the exchange of financial paperwork that is the scene’s ostensible point.
Production companies: Twenty Twenty Vision, CL Productions, Pie Films
Cast: Stelios Mainas, Dimitris Tzoumakis, Adam Bousdoukos, Giorgos Simeonidis, Mimi Branescu, Maria Nafpliotou, Mimi Branescu
Director-Screenwriter: Alexis Alexiou
Producer: Thanassis Karathanos
Executive producers: Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Theodora Valenti
Director of photography: Christos Karamanis
Production designer: Spyros Laskaris
Costume designer: Alkisti Mamali
Editor: Lambis Charalambidis
Casting directors: Maria Dagritzikou, Stavros Raptis
No rating, 116 minutes
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