Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Yannis Drakopoulos in Pity
"Yannis Drakopoulos is on fine form in the central role and there are some great supporting performances." | Photo: Margarita Nikitaki

Not everybody copes well with pity. When one is in a position to encounter it frequently, it can become wearing. There’s a sense that one is being asked to take responsibility for others’ emotions and, as the Greek lawyer at the centre of this tale explains, there’s the annoying fact that everybody expresses it using the same tedious phrases. But the lawyer’s wife is in a coma for so long, and he gets so used to it, that as she starts to get better and it disappears, he feels completely lost. People have moved on to the next tragedy and his circumstances have come to be seen as ordinary. He becomes determined to find new reasons to make people pity him.

The luminous cinematography in Pity conceals a black, black heart. There’s plenty of room for political satire here in a country which has suffered severe economic hardship that the international media ignores because the corpses of people trying to flee war zones routinely wash up on the beaches, but Pity handles this with a light touch, keeping its direct focus on more prosaic horrible situations and the absurd lengths people will go to to avoid having to think about them in any genuinely meaningful way. Voiceover by the central character introduces each new set of events with pithy observation which hints at the cruelty he seems to be longing for. It suggests a man who thinks of himself as more sophisticated than those around him, free of lesser emotions – yet it also reveals the cracks beginning to form.

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Yannis Drakopoulos is on fine form in the central role and there are some great supporting performances, including a particularly charming one from a dog, the only real source of emotional warmth in the film. Director Babis Makridis frames scenes of heartless exploitation as if they were snapshots in a tourist brochure, and everything is put together with clinical precision, reflecting the lawyer’s dissociation and increasing inability to grasp the emotional relevance of the world he interacts with.

Sharp-witted and entertaining throughout, with a cute final scene that will come as a relief to many viewers, Pity is a polished piece of filmmaking and well worth looking out for.

Reviewed on: 01 Mar 2018
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The story of a man who feels happy only when he is unhappy: addicted to sadness, with such need for pity, that he’s willing to do everything to evoke it from others. This is the life of a man in a world not cruel enough for him.

Director: Babis Makridis

Writer: Efthymis Filippou, Babis Makridis

Starring: Yannis Drakopoulos, Evi Saoulidou, Nota Tserniafski, Makis Papadimitriou, Georgina Chryskioti, Evdoxia Androulidaki

Year: 2018

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: Greece, Poland

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