Three stories about love in Athens that suffers from economic and ethical crisis. A greek student falls in love with a refugee from Syria who saves her life. A business executive whose job is on the line, falls in love with a north european woman who has come to Greece, in order to downsize a company, while a housewife meets every week at the supermarket a German historian who talks to her about philosophy and love.
Two years ago, Christoforos Papakaliatis broke the greek box office with his movie «If», a romantic dramedy that reminded us of Sliding Doors. This time, the director/writer/actor returns with something more difficult. His film speaks about love, but it ends speaking about the crisis and the demoralization it brings.
The three stories are presented consecutively. Papakaliatis uses little tricks (like the religious procession of Good Friday) in order to show time (and create a sad atmosphere). In the end the three stories are linked -as would one expect- although that happens in an abrupt manner.
Papakaliatis shows that he wants to say important things. And this is certainly better than not having anything to say. Nevertheless, his approach seems rather superficial. Like looking from the outsided all the things that are happening in Greece, like someone who has read and is interested in what is going on and tries to tell this story with images, but without actually knowing the pulse and feeling. The philosophical quotes that the characters sometimes say do not help.
But Papakaliatis knows how to use images. He shows that he can be a very good director -certainly better than writer or actor. His images are not TV-made (he became well known through his work in TV) and as a director he has the gift to present a different Greece, a Greece larger-than-life, like a cinemascope dream. Like when he opens the window and he hears greek retro music from the streets of Plaka district, while watching the screen of a summer cinema. It is a Greece that we can only imagine.
The three stories have different styles. The first is romantic and affectionate, while at the same time a bit darker. The second one is more humorous and sexy, like the things that Papakaliatis likes to do. As a screenwriter, Papakaliatis is more restrained in this second film. For example, although in the film his character is married, his wife is almost never present and the viewer does not see her clearly. All the drama and commotion from his previous work is missing and that is certainly a good thing.
More powerfull, more loving, more private is the third story. The fact that it takes place only in a supermarket advances the story, while the director has the luck to have to exceptional actrors. J.K.Simmons in a different part than the one which gave him his Oscar (in Whiplash). As a German historian he is simply wonderful, sweet. But Maria Kavogianni is his equal, having comical moments that come natural to her, but also keeping a dramatic balance. In one scene, later in the film Maria Kavogianni has a huge dramatic outburst and is sensational. She is definately worth a recognition in the Greek Film Academy awards for her work.
Minas Hatzisavvas who passed away recently is also exceptional as a supporter of the far-right, carrying in his body all the horror of racism and the far-right ideology.
Worlds Apart puzzled me. On the one hand, its simplified logic, bothered me. On the other, this is a film that wants to meet the general public. In this regard, the message “to love each other and not be racist” does not seem negligible.
There are, of course, unexpected scenes. Papakaliatis uses parallel editing to show people who are fired, as well as scenes from Metropolis that show soldier working in a factory, constantly, without objections. It might be a little crude, but this is not a scene that one would expect to see in a Papakaliatis’ film.
The biggest problem of the film is the difference in the tone between the three stories. As a result, the connection of the three stories seems violent and coercive and that leads to a film that does not seem to have the necessary cohesion.