Attenberg is a Greek film directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari and chronicles the life of a young Greco-French woman. She lives with, and takes care of, her father and spends the rest of her time at her relatively monotonous job or with her nymphomaniac best friend.
Attenberg is a film that is hard to strictly classify. It contains hues of a coming-of-age story, especially with regards the “blossoming sexuality” aspect that the genre connotes. It has elements of an “art house” film in the sense that the propulsion of the plot is not the driving force of the behind the film. In this sense it is non-traditionally constructed because it doesn’t really have a cathartic resolution or satisfy the requirements of conventional narrative cinema. However it’s exploration of a young woman’s life, during a period of transition, in two senses, is interesting and even amusing at times. It stays clear of overbearing pretension and manages to be an enjoyable film. The film’s exploration of the father-daughter relationship evokes a very Freudian reading; however it is paradoxically lacking the repressed nature. There is frank discussion between the two around the subject of sexuality and the film manages to treat this subject honestly. The portrayal of sex, overall, in the film is naturalistic (or realistic) and relatively frank. As was said before, the film isn’t really about the plot it’s more about the exploration and journey of self-discovery.
The title Attenberg comes from name of the British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough who, among other things, is well known for his nature documentaries. The protagonist spends lots of her free time watching the films with her father. Not only does it allow her to pass the time, but she imitates the animals and their sounds in her everyday life. While this sort of intimate and slightly crazy behavior walks a fine line, the film manages to make the scenes work. Although it feels a bit too quirky for its own good it manages to hurdle over being overly ridiculous. The reason why is the backbone of honesty that makes the film as strong as it is. The aesthetic of the film is anchored in realism and wallows in the grimy industrial landscape of Aspra Spitia.
The film was Greece’s submission to the Oscars and although it didn’t exactly make the shortlist it is still a film that deserves attention. It is definitely a film that will not be for everyone as there are certain elements that will certainly turn off spectators. However I believe that the film is interesting and evocative enough to merit being not only watched but discussed.
This film will be screened at Alumni Hall at 7pm on September 26th as part of the on-going CINSSU free Friday films program.