On a hedonistic Greek island, a middle-aged doctor becomes obsessed with a young tourist when she lets him tag along with her group of hard partying friends.
‘Suntan’ is a really good, striking piece of cinema from Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos, set on the party island of Antiparos, a typical Greek island where it’s quiet in winter, then incredibly busy once summer comes around. The film follows Kostis (Efthymis Papadimitriou), a middle aged doctor who moves to the island, with little moments hinting at a disappointing past that has led him to take up a relatively quaint and lonesome existence. The early parts of the film establish the lifestyle on the island in contrasts, initially as he arrives in a cold and miserable winter, before we quickly give way to summer and the vastly different atmosphere that the weather and the influx of tourists bring.
The film’s narrative really kicks into gear when Kostis treats a minor wound on Anna (Elli Triggou), a young, female tourist, who along with her friends, invite him down to the beach to spend time with them. As a lonely man striving for connection, he immediately latches on to their company, even though they taunt him and this gets worse when Anna starts to toy with his emotions. The film charts Kostis growing interest in Anna, beginning innocently as a rediscovery of his lost youth, before slowly turning into an obsession that starts to manifest in increasingly dangerous ways. It starts off small, with Kostis refusing to treat an elderly local after she arrives moments after his practice’s shutting time, to more serious events as he starts to completely neglect his responsibilities to drink and party more. In a tightknit community, Kostis’ behaviour doesn’t go unnoticed, but as he becomes more and more infatuated, he cares less, and it’s troubling to watch him descend into increasingly dark places.
‘Suntan’ is an uncomfortable watch at times, largely because we empathise with Kostis at least initially, but it’s also a very powerful critique of the effects of loneliness and the often damaging consequences of unrequited love. Efthymis Papadimitriou delivers an outstanding performance as Kostis, perfectly capturing both his exuberance and happiness at spending time with the youngsters, and the troubling descent that follows thereafter. The film loses some of its power when it moves towards a predictable and inevitable finale which is not surprising, and whilst it diminishes the impact, it doesn’t take away from a film that is excellent for the most part.
‘Suntan’ is a very good piece of cinema that presents a strong character study of a troubled, middle aged man, and it’s utterly captivating and compelling, and I highly recommend it.
Directed By: Argyris Papadimitropoulos
Starring: Efthymis Papadimitriou, Elli Triggou, Dimi Hart, Hara Kotsali, Milou Van Groesen, Marcus Collen, Yannis Tsortekis and Pavlos Orkopoulos