Greek Film Festival: Tungsten

This sliceof Greek social realism may be grim, but it\'s also superbly made.



In amongst the stereotypes of a bad soccer team, a worse economy and a tendency to cook lamb for vegetarians, the Grecian penchant for visceral cinema has largely been forgotten. One film that encapsulates this rawness is Tungsten, a cathartic, non-chronological story from writer-director-producer Giorgos Georgopoulos.

The film leads us through a day in the life of several hard-luck battlers, trying not to succeed, but merely make it through the day without failing. A middle-age transit officer (Vangelis Mourikis) asks his brother to help him out of debt in order keep his family together. Two young hoodlums (Omiros Poulakis and Promitheas Aliferopoulos) walk the streets aimlessly, scrounging for money, drugs and any stimulation at all, while a crabby middle manager (Tasos Nousias) tries in vain to balance his dead-end job and faltering abusive relationship.

The stories of this sorry but sympathetic bunch often intersect in amusing and unforeseen fashion, giving Tungsten a layered touch that seems to imply the commonality of each person\'s struggle, despite coming from different backgrounds and heading in different directions.

Sharp editing and a piercing soundtrack complement the monochromatic cinematography perfectly. The script is explicit, but never offensive, instead deftly illustrating the extent to which each well-meaning character has become a by-product of his or her stigmatic environment.

And while Tungsten gets all the \'tangibles\' right, they all serve to accommodate a film brimming with metaphors. Due to a worker\'s strike, the city is plagued with frequent power outages, symbolic of the intermittent false hope given to these people \'forgotten in the dark\'. Even the title has meaning. Tungsten has the highest boiling point of all metals, reflecting the intense stress and pressure suffered by the subjects on display. They bend but refuse to break, until a somewhat ambiguous but extremely memorable final curtain throws down the heavy hammer of reality.  

Tungsten is screening as part of the Greek Film Festival which is playing in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide from October 16 to November 4.


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