The Enemy Within offers smart twist on xenophobia
- Over a decade after his box-office hit Backdoor, Yorgos Tsemberopoulos returns to screens ready to enchant again with ageless sensibility.
Boasting the most polished production values visible in the Athens International Film Festival’s Greek section, where Montreal-debuted The Enemy Within [+see also:
film profile] had its national premiere Saturday, Tsemberopoulos’ return brings along a sense of classy filmmaking that’s starting to be missed from local projects.
Touching on a delicate and very current issue, his film follows a middle-aged man, who sees his life collapse, when masked hoodlums break into his house, gag him and his family and rape his daughter before taking off with money, valuables and the family’s car. Though his family urges him to put it all behind them, the man can’t shake off the idea that he couldn’t protect his love-ones.
Ripe theme for a revenge story, Tsemberopoulos’ film is more concerned with the machinations that force a well-educated middle-class pacifist to arm his hand, as well as the repercussions of his actions, rather than the actual procedures of doing so. Setting up a tight net of misguidance, Giorgos Tsiros’ script focuses on the corrosive forces that shake his protagonist (powerfully portrayed by Manolis Mavromatakis) off balance and pushes his social and moral compass out of view.
A director known to take his time between projects (all his films share decade-long intervals), Tsemberopoulos approaches his drama with measured composure. He delicately balances his hero’s need for justice, with his sense of social inequalities as the true cause of blind violence. Carefully treading the dangerous tides of racism, xenophobia and vigilantism, he shines a light on the everyman’s potential for extreme evil, as well as the depth of humanism hidden even in the darkest of hearts.
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