Attenberg

· Monday October 24, 2011

It has taken only two films, Dogtooth and, now, Attenberg to inspire murmurings about a new 'weird wave' of Greek cinema.

Both films are weird, there's certainly no doubt about that. The oddness of Attenberg is more muted than that of Dogtooth, though in its own way just as profound. Protagonist Marina is retarded. No, not like that. Retarded as in stunted. Awkward. Her inability to connect with people is redirected into a fascination with the nature documentaries of Sir David Attenborough (a corruption of his name lends the film its title.)

Attenberg's narrative could hardly be called propulsive. It's told through sparse dialogue and brief scenes that feel like vignettes - as tenuously connected to one other as Marina is to other people. It's also a deeply physical film. When characters mimic the actions of birds and other animals - and during interstitial scenes where Marina and friend Bella perform increasingly outlandish, almost ritualistic marches down a pathway - it has the feeling of a dance piece.

Despite the art-film pretense Attenberg is a deeply compelling film. People's attempts to create, maintain and/or end relationships are stripped down to their most basic components. Sex, instinct and love. This is made even more profound by the backdrop of a Greece in flux, struggling to understand itself in much the same way as Marina is.