From director Konstantinos Koutsoliotas and IndiePix films comes a film that is a journey of one man’s upside down life during “The Winter.”
This film tells the story of Niko (Theo Albanis), a Greek writer who hasn’t come up with a paying piece. Living in a flat in London, the bill collectors are banging at his door or calling on the phone. Realizing that he must escape and regroup, Niko sneaks out the door and out of town.
The only choice is to return to his hometown of Siatista in Greece where no one would think to look for him. Arriving at the gate, it is clear that the home of his youth has seen better days. The condition in the middle of winter isn’t good but Niko keeps his arrival quiet.
While looking around, floods of childhood memories come to him that include why his mother took Niko away from father Dimitri (Vangelis Mourikis) who he adored. But, Niko isn’t clear on what pushed his mother over the edge and she refuses to talk about it.
Through his memories and speaking with the neighbor woman and the town priest, Niko pieces together what happened to his father. He also falls into a world of dreams that take this young man into a place of a mixture in dreams and tattered memories.
Albanis as Niko is absolutely stellar in this role. Although his quirky dress and top hat grab attention, it is this actors haunting mannerisms and eyes that truly are a hallmark of this role. Trying to discover the truth of his family, reaching out for love, at the same time closing himself off, Albanis doesn’t break in the slightest. Instead, this character goes deeper and deeper until the moment I realized I was in just as deep! Just so well done bringing out every emotion one could have watching someone else’s journey.
Mourikis as Dimitri is a man who believes in his home and dreams. The problem is that his wife doesn’t but instead believes there is damage being done to their son. Every scene with Mourikis and a young Nikos is filled with story telling and all the love a parent has for a child. It is when the grown up Nikos remembers those stories that the break between childhood and being an adult is hard.
Cizek as Yiannis is the exact kind of neighbor lady I’d love to have around. Someone who knows who she is and where she belongs and at the same time believes every child is worth remembering. Her concern for Niko runs family deep.
Other cast include: Efi Papatheodorou as Philio, Andreas Andreopoulos as Father Chrysostomos, Petroula Christou as Hermioni Gounaras, Manos Cizek as Yiannis and Vasiliki Panali as Eri.
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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The Winter” four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is such a beautiful film filled with themes of family secrets, dreams, life failures and the reality of what we remember as children and what truly was. There were moments where I so wanted something to happen for Niko that would bring him some hope or joy – but life doesn’t work like that does it.
The cinematography is stunning with its hues of darkness and momentary flashes of color. The cuts between remembering the past and the present are brought out beautifully. The film gives off such an ethereal feeling with fantastic use of dark animation in the fantasy story telling. There truly isn’t a moment of this film I didn’t enjoy.
Director Koutsoliotas is a VFX artist and “The Winter” makes it very clear that he is an artist indeed. “The Winter” is Koutsoliotas’ directorial debut.
In the end — it is the memories that haunt his present!