Greek Pete

Greek Pete


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Docudramas are the shapeshifters of the film world, seeming to be in a constant state of flux between the two genres. It is almost impossible to distinguish what is real from what is constructed. The blurring of these lines is so acute in Greek Pete that many viewers will think they are watching a verite year in the life of the eponymous London rent boy.

In fact, what they are watching is real-life male escort Pete Pittaros and his fellow rent boys drawing upon their own experiences to 'improvise' a drama concerning Greek Pete, his loves, aspirations and philosophy on life – and therein lies both the film's success and its failings.

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"I wanted the film to be truly authentic, but that did not mean that everything had to be completely real," contends writer/director Andrew Haigh in the press notes. In many ways he is right. There is no doubt that making a fully fledged documentary about London rent boys would have presented a lot of difficulty for a filmmaker - although it could be argued that the end result would offer considerably more insight. But by enlisting Pittaros and his pals as collaborators in his drama, it may be they feel more able to reveal aspects of their lives more freely, through the arm's length 'characters' presented here. Certainly Pete's statement at the start that the film isn't "too bad for your ego" feels as though it could apply to either the character or the player.

The trouble is, we'll never really know whether this is truly an authentic window into the rent boys' world, or rather, a window into how they want you to view it. Does this matter? Perhaps not, since it still offers an insight into their lives, albeit possibly seen through a rose-coloured pair of spectacles. Certainly, Haigh has garnered an enviable amount of trust from his 'actors'. Pittaros and company seem to be shockingly honest in their depiction of their sex (there is a considerable amount of this, so if boy-on-boy action offends you, this film is not for you) drug-taking and friendship.

Still, every time you recall that the story is, essentially, fiction, what are you left with? A half-window to the soul that feels like a missed opportunity.

Reviewed on: 06 Sep 2009
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Docudrama centring on the year in a life of a London-based rent boy.
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Director: Andrew Haigh

Writer: Andrew Haigh

Starring: Peter Pittaros, Lewis Wallis, Robert Day, Tristan Field, Barry Robinson, Liam Thompson, Rachel Whitbread

Year: 2009

Runtime: 75 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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