Monday, 2 June 2014

MOVIE MONDAY - LOUKOUMADES ME MELI


“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” - Winston Churchill

Is it possible to make a comedy film about a very serious issue without risking making the whole exercise ridiculous, or trivialising the issues involved? The answer is an overwhelming “yes”. Comedy is infinitely more complex than a means of generating a few laughs. True comedy is serious business and any comedy that takes itself seriously and doesn’t depend on the scatological or slapstick for humour has underlying themes that are challenging. Think of some of your favourite jokes – chances are that they deal with some sensitive topics, topics that challenge our comfort zone.

Humour is a way of relieving tension, defusing potentially emotionally taxing situations and taking the sting out of situations that are tragic. Major tragedies like the Challenger disaster or Hurricane Katrina left in their wake jokes, ranging from the poignant to the frankly tasteless. In all cases people were attempting to deal with an emotionally draining and immensely heartrending situation by taking a view of it that allowed some lightening of the discomfort with a take on it that was humorous.

Humour has many faces, comedy can be of many kinds, but in all cases the effect is beneficial. Laughter (and lots of it!) aids our physical health, reduces the chance of mental illness, helps to prolong our life. For Movie Monday today, I am reviewing a 2005 comedy I saw recently that deals with several serious and distressing topics. First: Paedophilia (child molestation); second: Death; and third: Obesity and body image problems. It is by Greek Director Olga Malea and is titled: Λουκουμάδες με Μέλι (Loukoumádes me Méli – Doughnuts with Honey).

The film was made with the help of six adorable piglets and 23,500 doughnuts. The piglets survived; however, many of the doughnuts were eaten during the making of this movie. The cast is well chosen and Pavlos Haikalis, especially plays a very difficult role well. The leads are likeable and handle the comedy well, while many of the supporting actors enjoy the excesses of the script with gusto. Olga Malea seems to be able to balance the slapstick with the pathos, and some scenes get a belly laugh, while in the same breath one finds one’s heartstrings tugged.

The cinematography is gorgeous and many of the scenes display the beauty of springtime in rural Greece wonderfully. We also saw some innovative camera work in the way that some difficult scenes were handled. Small town life in provincial Greece is brought to life successfully and there is a wry commentary on modern-day mores and technology, and how these impinge on traditional attitudes and strait-laced cultural icons.

A very good movie, see it if you can, not only for the laughs, but also for an excellent consideration of some very “heavy” material that confronts us in an unexpected way and challenges our comfort zone. As far as the piglet and where it fits into the story, you’ll have to watch the film and find out, its role is crucial!

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