ScreenAnarchy's ATTENBERG Review Roundup
Giorgos Lanthimos and Athina Rachel Tsangari, the creative team behind Dogtooth, switched roles for their project, and the result is Attenberg, produced by Lanthimos and directed by Tsangari, and poised to begin a limited theatrical engagement in the U.S. tomorrow.
The film has been dividing critics since it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2010, and, as Attenberg made the festivals rounds, that divisiveness was manifested in the reviews we published last year, which ranged from positive to ... not so positive.
The story was nicely summed up by Ard Vijn when he saw it last year at the International Film Festival Rotterdam:
"Twenty-three year old Marina is close to exactly two people: her father Spyros and her friend Bella. But as her father starts entering the final stage of his terminal disease, Marina wants to learn how to open up to other people as well. Not just because she fears loneliness, but also because she is curious about this thing called sex, a subject Bella seems to be very familiar with but which is still weird and alien to Marina ...
"Winning you over by way of sheer acting power and a simple script with quirky yet believable characters, Attenberg is a nice, gentle and at times pretty funny drama. Don't expect to be bowled over but there is a good chance you'll be impressed."
For more, please read Ard's entire review.
A couple of months later, Peter Gutierrez and Aaron Krasnov saw Attenberg as part of New Directors / New Films, presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Museum of Modern Art in New York. Peter G. wrote in part:
"It might seem lazy to make the obvious comparison to Dogtooth, and maybe it is, but one can't help notice that the two films fit really well together, as if representing two-thirds of an 'official trilogy.' ... Sure, writer-director Athina Rachel Tsangari might be accused of having a reach that exceeds her grasp -- there's enough good material here for two movies -- but I'd rather watch Attenberg's missteps again than take a chance on the typical American indie 'dramedy.'"
Aaron's comments were brief, but to the point:
"The cadence of this film finds profound brevity in its handling of the contrived interactions between animals. The instinctual games we play with each other and the rituals we undertake as a species. Interspersed with alternating still frames of nature and industry these anthropological vignettes provide a playground for the characters to breathe in. There's quite a bit of good fun."
For more, you'll find their observations in full within ND/NF 2011: Team ScreenAnarchy Wraps Up. Note also the comment by Joshua Chaplinsky, also a ScreenAnarchy writer: "I found Attenberg quite enjoyable. Lot of great, funny moments."
A little later, on the other side of the world, Kwenton Bellette caught the film at the Sydney Film Festival, and found it much less satisfying.
"When recalling Attenberg, the words why and what seem to surface a lot. Firstly, why is Marina (Ariane Labed) like the way she is? That is antisocial, strange, blunt and wild. Secondly what about the human condition; it is being scrutinized, but ultimately what does Attenberg have to say about it?
"The acting in incredible from everyone involved, particularly Marina, but there is only so much of one idea that can be tolerated. Attenberg would have worked beautifully as a short film. It is easy to count all of the elements of Attenberg on one hand; it is just not complex enough, and with the unique material more could have been done instead of stretching this out to full length. Given this team produced the superior Dogtooth, I expected better."
For more, please read Kwenton's entire review.
Attenberg opens tomorrow at the IFC Center in New York.
- Athina Rachel Tsangari
- Athina Rachel Tsangari
- Ariane Labed
- Yorgos Lanthimos
- Vangelis Mourikis
- Evangelia Randou