Monday, 21 January 2013


“A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.” - Max Müller

We watched an interesting Greek film at the weekend. It was not very special or very original and the plot could even be described as quite ordinary or even simple. The movie-making was straightforward and traditional, very slow in its development and the actors capable but to exceptional. However, looking at the whole package, it worked and overall ended up being quite engaging despite all of the cons that seemed to outnumber the cons. It was the 2005 Laya Yourgou movie “Lioubi”, starring Alexis Georgoulis, Eugenia Kaplan, Nikos Georgakis, Lena Kitsopoulou and Olga Damani.

The plot is very much a social comment on the Greek reality of the early 21st century. A country beset by economic and social problems, a place where racism and prejudice have come to the fore and where the battle for survival (at any price) becomes a primary consideration in a society that is in a state of disequilibrium and destabilisation. The film is very much a reflective piece and it describes the journey of a young Russian woman who comes to Greece to work and to perhaps build a better life for herself.

Liubi (whose name means “love” in Russian) is the young Russian woman, played sensitively by Eugenia Kaplan, who is the central character of the movie. She comes into the lives of a typical middle-class Greek family in Athens, engaged as the carer for the elderly matriarch of the family Mrs Eleni (Olga Damani) who suffered a stroke and is unable to speak or move, but who understands everything happening around her. Liubi is happy that she has been offered this small but important opportunity to try and build a life for herself. Dimitris, Mrs Eleni’s son (Alexis Georgoulis), is engaged to Penny but he is unhappy with his relationship and Penny’s demands. Anna, his sister (Lena Kitsopoulou) is on the verge of hysteria as she is desperately trying to not to have continual miscarriages. Anna’s husband (Nikos Georgakis) is a lazy good-for-nothing who is more of a burden than a help to the family. Liubi and Dimitris find themselves attracted to one another and they try to reach out to each other, but things get complicated as several critical situations put inordinate pressure on an already fragile set of relationships…

The film was sensitively and candidly shot and the director Laya Yourgou, who also wrote the script touches on several sensitive topics dealing with the characters and situations in an objective manner. The movie had some poignant moments, some of them relating to the special relationship that Liubi develops with Mrs Eleni. The two women seem to understand one another without being able to fully communicate. However, the final scenes of the movie bring out this touching connection and the seemingly powerless old woman manages to reward Liubi for the love she has shown her and give her the opportunity that she has been searching for in Greece.

A well-made and acted movie, definitely a B feature, but one that is warm and sensitively made, highlighting some flaws in the dysfunctional household in a country that is going through some tough times and is having to cope with numerous stressors and destabilisers of its social fabric.

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