email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on LinkedIn share on reddit pin on Pinterest


Review: Kyuka – Before Summer’s End


- CANNES 2024: For such a sun-soaked story, Kostis Charamountanis’s film is surprisingly dark

Review: Kyuka – Before Summer’s End
Afroditi Kapokaki, Konstantinos Georgopoulos and Elsa Lekakou in Kyuka – Before Summer’s End

Holidays: a time of doing nothing, of finally feeling warm, of lazing around. Or, as Greek director Kostis Charamountanis would have it, a time of locating an absent parent who walked out on you years ago, of blasting classical music and of fighting with dinner guests over a stray shrimp.

In his Cannes ACID opening film Kyuka – Before Summer’s End [+see also:
interview: Kostis Charamountanis
film profile
, summer is definitely here, and it couldn’t be better. The sun is shining, and the sea is shimmering. Two siblings, Konstantinos and Elsa (Konstantinos Georgopoulos and Elsa Lekakou), get on board their family boat once again, with their dad (Simeon Tsakiris) as the captain. On a lovely island, they run into their own birth mother (Elena Topalidou): she abandoned them years ago, when they were still very little. They don’t know it’s her, not yet – so far, they have just complimented her on her dress. But their father does, and soon, he just can’t take it.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

What follows is charming, if a little odd. The legacy of the whole Greek Weird Wave has been difficult to shake, and it shows here as well. Charamountanis tells a simple story but makes it odd, exaggerating many scenes – and that soundtrack – to the point of absurdity. Suddenly, two grown men don’t just bond over fishing stories; they go on a never-ending rant where “Siddhartha meets Moby Dick”. The kids’ father and his ex-wife don’t just discuss the possible (and long-overdue) meeting that could bring this family together – they awkwardly assault each other verbally, pointing out that they have aged. It’s as if a comedy sketch show were taking over this gentle drama, interrupting its flow.

It doesn’t always work, but it’s intriguing – like a purposeful technical glitch or a previously deleted scene added to a more polished final cut. Charamountanis seems interested in destroying any moment that threatens to be too idyllic. Even on the boat, surrounded by the kind of landscape that makes everyone else painfully aware they are not the ones on holiday, people start throwing up or cover their faces with such a generous amount of sunscreen that it’s just wrong.

It might be because it’s a story – or at least it feels that way – about pretending and keeping up appearances, and then realising it can’t be sustained forever. Hiding one’s true self for so long – with Konstantinos rather symbolically urged to scratch off his colourful nail polish by his dad – is just not healthy and can lead only to, yes, escape or pure madness. And these kids have to return to the shore and grow up one day, a fact that their overprotective father finds too hard to swallow. This small, unassuming film catches you by surprise because, just like one of those cheap summer drinks, it seems like a perfectly good time and then leaves a bitter aftertaste that lingers for hours.

Kyuka – Before Summer’s End was produced by Greece’s Heretic, with its Heretic Outreach branch handling sales, and was co-produced by North Macedonia’s List Production.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy