Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hardcore (Dennis Iliadis, 2004)

Hardcore marks my first introduction into independent Greek cinema, something I hadn't known existed. It is the brutal story of Martha, a 17 year old sex worker who already "feels old," and Nadia, the 16 year old new girl at the escort service who becomes the boss' favorite by not paying attention to any of the unspoken rules. The first half of the movie is about the girls' business as escorts, and their friendship that blossoms into love. Then Nadia does something that changes the whole movie, which becomes a meditation on love and fame, and what those things can do to a person.

The contrast between Martha and Nadia is very well-developed in the movie; in the beginning, Nadia is the beautiful one whom everyone loves, but after she becomes famous, Martha is still the one in the background, but she becomes more beautiful and develops into her own person. The final ten minutes show just how much Martha has learned from the vicious Nadia, and it's a triumph of the script and of the director Iliadis that Martha's transformation is so subtle and realistic that we hardly notice it. Nadia is completely over the top, played wonderfully by Danai Skiadi as a woman (a girl, really) who knows what she wants and does anything to get it. Nadia has an almost preternatural understanding of human nature, even as she spirals out of control. Katerina Tsavalou plays Martha as a girl who is content because she has been so beaten down, until Nadia introduces her to a different way of life.

Martha and Nadia are in love, in fact, they live together, shower together, vacation together, and occasionally kiss passionately, but they both have escort boyfriends and sleep with men for a living. Their relationship is technically a lesbian romance, but it seemed more to me like a deep friendship between two girls who have so much in common and both desperately need someone to hang on to. The lesbian aspect is treated with respect by Iliadis; surprisingly, the two girls really have no sex scene with one another. The contradictory relationship between the two, and how they change and adapt to their surroundings, is the core of the movie, and is played both realistically and superbly.

The movie is dreamlike at times, as Martha's fantasies interrupt her real life on occasion (check out the caps I made, but be warned of nudity), and those are some of the most poignant and funny moments in the movie. As the two girls' lives devolve into drugs, sex, and violence (all of which are in the movie a great deal, a warning to those not looking for a shock), their world becomes more surreal and beautiful. I want to see more of Iliadis, as this, his debut feature, was so stunning. Highly recommended.


RIYL: A Hole in My Heart, Baise Moi (a movie that I didn't like, but is similar in theme)
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