A short excerpt from the booklet essay by Michael Ewins.
Like his later works, Lanthimos' Kinetta is in large part about role play, performed both privately and publicly, and explores how shifting identities are influenced by the rules and rituals of real or adopted communities. He describes Dogtooth as "the story of a person who tries to escape a fictitious world", and Alps as "about a person who tries to enter a fabricated world", but Kinetta is about people trying to escape a real world through the processes of fabrication. It is a story of reconstruction (like Theodoros Angelopoulos' 1970 film of that name, which announced an earlier renaissance in Greek cinema), following a plain-clothes cop (Kostas Xikominos) as he restages old murder scenes with the help of a local maid (Evangelia Randou) and lonely photo store clerk (Aris Servetalis), who acts as the oddball troupe's director.
As in Dogtooth and Alps, the characters in Kinetta are entirely inscrutable, revealing more of themselves through physical gesture and body language ("spastic physicality... sparse and marred relationships") than dialogue, of which there is very little. We can infer that each character lives alone, that the clerk harbours feelings for the maid that he can't express, and the cop likes auto-mobiles and Russian women, but beyond these details the emotional landscape of Kinetta is as unknowable as its physical one; the titular holiday resort, seemingly a ghost town during its off-season. Unnamed for the duration, these characters clearly embody the "moral and identity crisis" Tsangari observed in the country pre-collapse, but as Kinetta's co-producer (it was the first Greek film produced at Haos, following rejection from the EEK's [Greek Film Centre] Nea Matia/New Gaze funding programme), they could also represent what she and Lanthimos were experiencing in the independent scene at that time; filmmakers attempting to recapture old traditions with new technologies, and set against an unaccommodating landscape headed for crisis.
Even more so than in his later films, Lanthimos' conception of non-narrative filmmaking is forcibly alienating in Kinetta, and his purposeful extraction of emotion and relatable behaviour denies us any normative association with character or plot. Kinetta's sense of alienation is unnervingly roaming, almost like a disease which infects the viewer upon contact. Despite its slow, protracted pace, Kinetta somehow becomes hypnotic, and the characters' enigmatic routine, which they follow like pre-programmed automatons, is unaccountably involving.
For me Kinetta's most obvious interpretation is its most meaningful - as a portrait of depression. The film's diluted palette and total lack of emotional relation (it exhibits none of the gallows or absurdist humour which has become an identifying feature of Lanthimos' films) are perfectly matched by the setting, a depopulated and overcast holiday resort now abandoned, and with few identifying features to betray details of a past. Like no other in this renaissance period, Kinetta is a film which crawls under the skin and remains there; one doesn't so much remember as become haunted by it. The cinema of Yorgos Lanthimos has always foregrounded image as a means to engage the viewer, but here his emphasis on framing, colour and rhythm are designed to disengage, and to keep the viewer coldly removed from the environment in the same way as its characters are. Perhaps the best way to put it is that Kinetta isn't so much a "sensor" or "receiver" of a moral and identity crisis as it is a holder, a containment unit for all of the anxiety and unease of a country which, now unleashed and being explored by a new set of filmmakers, feels all the more powerful; like the prediction which everybody missed as they kept towing the line toward social, economic, and personal ruin.
Michael Ewin's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the DVD release.
A short excerpt from the booklet
DVD Beaver by Eric Cotenas
Peek-a-boo by Didier Becu
Sunday Herald by Barry Didcock
MovieSteve by Steve Morrissey
Close-Up Film by Eric Jukes
World Cinema Paradise by Dusty Somers
by Nathaniel Thompson
Sight & Sound
by Michael Brooke
The Digital Fix
by Clydefro Jones
(i) 'Attenberg, Dogtooth, and the weird wave of Greek cinema', Steve Rose, The Guardian, August 2011
(ii) Yorgos Lanthimos Is Not The Leader of the Greek New Wave - Twitch Film.
(iii) A Behavioral Report on the Greek Crisis by Celluloid Liberation Front
(iv) Kinetta - from the Berlinale programme 2005
(v) Haos Film