Kostis goes to the island of Antiparos as the new doctor. A boring winter passes and here comes the summer and a colorful world. The island becomes a different world. Kostis meets Anna and her friends and wants some of their vitality, as well as to become a member of the gang. But when he starts to become annoying, his new “friends” ignore him. Kostis will find himself in “exile”, having tasted unprecedented pleasures.
Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ shoots in a beautifull way the greek summer. Initially he shows winter’s isolation on the island. Then, the filmmaker chooses to throw on the screen the title of the filmm while summer sound is buzzing from behind, in order to show that the island is transformed into bustling beehive. What follows is color, sea, sun, bronzed bodies.
Within this atmosphere, Kostis (Makis Papadimitriou), a man wearing sunscreen with high protection and hat, can hardly be protected. Temptations are many and he not experienced at all.
For Papadimitropoulos’ the body is of great importance, and as in his previous film (Wasted Youth) the subject matter here is youth. “Wasted Youth” had youth at the center of the film, whereas here the film deals with the process of growing old.
Kostis becomes a different person. He is in a hurry to live. He is no longer the careful and buttoned doctor. He is a man that some new, free, hedonist young people, want in their company. But there are also many who remind him of his position. Sullas Tzoumerkas’ (the director of “A Blast”, who has also contributed to the script) plays an old friend from school, a plastic surgeon who reminds him that these delights are not for them. His is a warning voice that the main character does not seem to listen to.
With a fairly simple idea, Papadimitropoulos’ makes a movie full of color, sound, energy. He proves that he can do cinephile cinema using the tools of traditional storytelling. “Suntan” is charming, bold, it grips the audience’s look on the screen. It’s almost voyeuristic. Bodies dancing, having sex, swimming in contrast with the perishable body that hurts and ages is in the heart of the film. A tribute to Lolita of Nabokov? There is definately a direct reference in the scene where Kostis tries to take something out of Anna’s eye.
Makis Papadimitriou embodies very well the tired, but persistent man (we do not learn much about the past and his motives, but the film suggests these. Although some critics didn’t like that, the eliptical development of the characters did not personally bother me). The one that shines, however, is Elli Tringou who plays Anna. She not only is a beautiful creature, but Papadimitropoulos and Tzoumerkas wrote for here a role that does not fall into clichés. Anna is not “bitch” or bad. She is just young. Tringou shows energy, vitality, and she stands out from the rest of the gang.
What can one say about the cinematography of Christos Karamanis’? In the film we see the most beautiful images of the greek summer that were ever shown on the big screen. There are some repetitive scenes and themes that perhaps could have been different, but this is a movie that without being a thriller, unfolds with the intensity of a thriller -a Polanski thriller (like Knife in the Water) or a thriller like “L’inconnu du lac”. A thriller about the body growing old.