A group of Pontian Greek immigrant teenage dreamers dwelling marginalised in the notorious and lustreless wild suburbia, witness the city's repulsive face and an unrelenting world defined by prostitution, drugs, and inevitably, loss.
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The "Edge of the City" means Menidi, a poor suburb on the edge of pulsating Athens (the city). Menidi harbours many Cosssack Greeks. They are also called "pontios", ethnic Greeks from the Black Sea dispersed through the ex-Southern Soviet Union in the Stalin era. The "pontios" have returned to Greece en masse after the demise of the USSR. The parents speak mostly Greek, but the teenage children speak a hybrid Russian-Greek language which reflects their lack of identity and marginalization. The teenagers' marginalization leads them to the core of the film's theme: the lives of petty crime and prostitution which these second or third class Greeks lead. Their camaraderie, the way they mock each others' dealing in homosexuality, their sexual and criminal exploitation by rich Greeks, their own exploitation of prostitutes, sexual and moral ambiguity all lead to the film's defining. Written by
Part Greek, part American pop culture, part Russian, part Basketball Diaries, part Fassbinder, part pity the poor prostitute.
If it were not so incoherent (or is it deliberately so?) there is much to be admired here. This is a classy film in many ways, not the least of which is how it zeroes in on urban teen disorientation in the midst of contemporary Western affluence, combining a sharp contrast between rustic origins of an immigrant underclass and trendy cosmopolitan lifestyles. And the main characters are as compelling as those of a big budget film, in no way suggesting their non-professional origins. There is likewise an unrelenting effort to reflect the way these kids actually talk to each other and think.
But it bites off way too much in trying to include something for everyone in its audience. A little coke snorting here, a little skin there, some inchoate gayness along the way, some obvious symbolism, even a taking-a-girl-home-to-meet-the-folks number (that backfires predictably). The overall effect is close to that of a television documentary rather than a dramatic story line. Something may be lost by relying on English subtitles, but for anyone unfamiliar with Russian or Greek there is no option.
Worth a look.
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