Attenberg (18)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner01/09/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Impressively directed and superbly acted, Attenberg plays like a light-hearted, quirky version of Dogtooth, though its relative lack of plot means that it's difficult to engage with the characters on an emotional level.

What's it all about?
Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, Attenberg stars Ariane Labed as Marina, a sheltered, peculiar 20-something woman who spends her time looking after her caring, terminally ill father (Vangelis Mourikis), with whom she cheerfully discusses funeral arrangements while bonding over their mutual love of David Attenborough documentaries (the title comes from Marina's mispronunciation of Attenborough's name). As her father's condition worsens, Marina begins to explore both the outside world and her own sexuality as a result of her friendship with the equally peculiar Bella (Evangelia Randou), who helpfully teaches Marina to kiss with tongues in the film's opening scene.

The Good
Co-star Giorgos Lanthimos (who plays Marina's sort of love interest) wrote and directed 2009's Dogtooth, so it's perhaps no surprise that Attenberg explores some similar ideas. However, Dogtooth had a much darker plot element, with the father forcibly keeping his grown children in a child-like state and Attenberg is ultimately frustrating in comparison because there's no ostensible reason for Marina and Bella's unusual behaviour.

That said, the film is beautifully shot throughout (Tsangari has a strong visual style) and there are several wonderfully quirky moments, such as Marina and Bella's penchant for silly dancing, although that does go on slightly longer than strictly necessary. Similarly, Labed and Randou are both excellent as the two young women and there's strong support from Lanthimos and Mourikis.

The Bad
The main problem is that the relative lack of plot means that we don't really get to know the characters, so it's hard to engage with either Marina or Bella on an emotional level. Their relationship is also frustratingly underwritten – we never find out how they met, for example – and their mutual weirdness eventually wears thin, given the lack of context.

Worth seeing?
In short, Attenberg is worth seeing as a sort of light-hearted companion piece to Dogtooth but it's a much less satisfying experience overall and lacks both the depth and the emotional impact of Lanthimos' film.

Film Trailer

Attenberg (18)
Be the first to review Attenberg...
image
01 The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (tbc)

Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, ...

image
02 The Theory of Everything (tbc)

Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Emily Watson

image
03 Pride (15)

Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Imelda Sta...

image
04 What We Did on Our Holidays (12A)

David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, Anne...

image
05 The Guest (15)

Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Ethan Embry

Content updated: 29/08/2014 09:02

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Night Moves Film Review

Engaging and provocative, this is a fiercely introspective thriller from writer-director Kelly Reichardt, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.