SUNDANCE REVIEW: Subject Matter, Nudity Stalls 'Attenberg' From Being Mainstream Movie

Sundance Film Festival - Attenberg - 2011
Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival
A complex and unique story of sexual awakening and mortality.

Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, the movie will likely be nothing more than festival fare.

PARK CITY -- Already acclaimed at such festivals as Toronto and Venice, Attenberg got its first U.S. presentation here at the Sundance Film Festival in the Spotlight Section. In this country, it will thrive on the festival circuit but its subject matter and scenes of full-frontal nudity will preclude more mainstream distribution.

It is both a coming-of-age story and a preparing-for-death saga, as 23-year old Marina (Ariane Labed) embraces her own sexuality while preparing her terminally ill father (Vangelis Mourikis) for his imminent death.

Marina is sexually inhibited and confused, so inexperienced that her only sexual acts have come from practicing kissing with her female friend Bella (Evangelia Randou). She is confounded by her own sexuality, repulsed by male body parts but not stimulated by the female form either.

Marina's most joyful moments come from playing school-girl games with Bella, as the two mock the world with elaborately silly dance routines, played off with mock Busby Berkeley precision.

Inter-cutting scenes of Marina's grapples with her emerging sexuality with hospital visits to perk up her dying father, writer/director Athina Rachel Tsangari, has interwoven two of life's most important facets – sex and death – in a highly unconventional but embracing manner. 

As the kind but conflicted Marina, Labed shows child-like vulnerability while at the same time evincing age-old wisdom. As her terminal father, Mourikis smartly masks his pain and fear with a mordant wit and stoic manner.

Attenberg is distinguished aesthetically by cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis eye for both the beauty of coastal Greece and the hideousness of its mineral factories, conveying, like the film itself, the life-giving and life-taking moments in our lifetimes.


Venue: Sundance Film Festival, Spotlight
Production: Haos Films, Faliro House Prods., Boo Prods., Stefi Prods.
Cast: Ariane Labed, Yorgos Lanthimos, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou
Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Screenwriter: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Producers: Maria Hatzakou, Yorkos Lanthimos, Iraklis Mavroidis, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Angelos Venetis
Executive producer: Christos Konstantakopoulos
Director of photography: Thimios Bakatakis
Production designer: Dafni Kalogianni
Editors: Sandrine Cheyrol, Matthew Johnson
No Rating, 95 minutes