With its story of an orthodox monk and nun living in monasteries perched atop opposing mountains and lusting for one another, Metéora purports to explore the conflict of spirit vs. flesh. Featuring almost no dialogue and even less action, it’s one of the most insipid renditions of a theme favoured by some of cinema’s greatest directors (Buñuel, Fellini, Bergman, Scorsese, to name only a few).
With such a spectacular setting (the titular, UNESCO-protected monastery in Greece), the cinematography could have been its saving grace. Instead, the entire film is shot slightly out of focus, at first giving the impression that the projection is badly calibrated. No such luck — the effect is intentional and utterly baffling as it grants the film an ugly and persistently irritating TV aesthetic completely bereft of any evocative potential. Although skillfully executed Byzantine-like animation sequences illustrating the protagonists’ spiritual struggle provide interesting interludes, these alone are not enough to offset the film’s oppressive tedium.
Metéora | Directed by Spiros Stathoulopoulos (Greece 2012) with Theo Alexander, Tamila Koulieva-Karantinaki. Opens July 26
Originally published in the July/August 2012 issue of Exberliner