The Playboy Murderer

The Playboy Murderer


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Fast cars, sharp suits, glamorous women, and a terrible secret buried in the past - sounds exciting, doesn't it? It's not exactly the subject of the average documentary, but then, 'playboy murderer' Thanos Papalexis hardly thought of himself as an ordinary man, at least not in the days when he was getting away with it. The arrogance, the swagger and the flashy accoutrements bought him a legion of admirers, including wealthy victims who unwittingly funded his lavish lifestyle. But the truth, of course, is sordid and squalid and much less than the sum of its parts. Sadly this documentary also manages to miss the mark despite a lot of quality material.

Papalexis, now imprisoned, was a conman. When his adoring American girlfriend asked him what he did, he said he was a spy, and she was so enamoured by the fantasy that she never probed any further, or so she would like us to believe. The point is not pressed. She's in a difficult place - present herself as a smitten airhead or as somebody who concealed a man wanted for the grisly torture and murder of a stranger.

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This man was no James Bond villain, just a tenant who refused to move out of a property Papalexis wanted to sell. It's the ugly secret at the heart of a complex web of lies. We're told that he didn't think of people like the murdered man as fully human. In other words, he was a sociopath - intriguing on the surface with banality not far beneath.

Caught between celebrating the fantasy announced by its title and acknowledging the pettiness of the reality behind it, this is a film that doesn't seem to know what to do with itself. Great interview footage is edited together in a rather piecemeal fashion. It's a hell of a story but the viewer is left feeling curiously dissociated and underinformed. Worth watching for those with an interest in related subjects, it's unlikely to excite anyone else.

Reviewed on: 04 Nov 2010
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The story of flashy businessman and conman Thanos Papalexis, who dazzled his friends and lovers yet harboured a dark secret.
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Director: Rachel Williams

Year: 2010

Runtime: 25 minutes

Country: UK


Doc/Fest 2010

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