Wednesday, 26 March 2014
A review: "See You in Hell, My Darling" [1999, Greece]
Nikos Nikolaidis made "Tha se do stin Kolasi, agapi mou" [Eng. Title: See You in Hell, My Darling] following Singapore Sling. It may have been filmed in colour, with a different storyline, but it nevertheless shares similarities in style and content with its more notorious antecedent.
It is indeed 'style' that the film is preoccupied with, since there is very little in the way of narrative. It literally starts and ends with a bang, and the characters' exuberance and their frequent resort to 'calendar-girl' poses are more akin to an erotic workshop on acting and choreography than a serious attempt at drama. But the film is not nearly as explicit as Singapore Sling, as Nikolaidis is content in merely teasing his audience, and make us imagine a whole lot more than what's actually shown.
The film is about sex, betrayal, vengeance, and an estranged intimate friendship between two women in their thirties, Elsa (Vicky Harris) and the visiting Vera (Valeria Christodoulidou), and their connection to a dead man floating in the swimming pool - Elsa's husband. Their love-hate relationship, sometimes tender, but often painful and masochistic, is played out over the course of the film, with Elsa revelling in inflicting the pain, and passive Vera being willing recipient.
Like in a recurring bad dream, we watch instances of Elsa lacing Vera's whisky with drugs, that may or may not be the cause of Vera's bouts of vomiting. It is obvious that Elsa has a grievance against her childhood friend and lover, since she discovered a tape of Vera having sex with her (now dead) husband, on their wedding day.
Characters are killed and resurrected again in the film, to the extent that we're no longer certain if the person floating face-down in the pool is dead or 'undead'. As often as the women jostle with his corpse in spectacular fashion, we see the man also bear witness to goings-on inside the house. On one occasion, he even rapes Vera.
Irrespective of whether you get what the film is trying (or not trying really) to say, it is a mesmerising piece of cinema made in Nikolaidis' trademark style, which could be surmised as a distinct mixture of Fellini and Chabrol, with a dash of Greenaway, and perhaps a hint of Borowczyk. The core ingredient however, is Nikolaidis' own fertile imagination. He's ably assisted by the two main actresses, but most of the praise should be reserved for the quick-fire editing of Giorgos Triandafyllou, that succeeds in keeping the audience captivated. At least for the editing and the performances, the film is Recommended Viewing..!
DVD Order Link [PAL]
This is an attentively restored version with colour and contrast close to the way the film was originally intended. My only complaint is that it is letterboxed and not anamorphic.
The Nudity: Vicky Harris and Valeria Christodoulidou
While the actresses are clearly nude in many scenes, most of what we get to see is concealed, and the nudity is largely implied, especially from Ms. Harris who, unlike in The Zero Years, wears a pasty in many of her scenes. But the film is nonetheless erotic and 'sexy' (and regular readers of the blog would know that I don't throw away such remarks randomly). Rest assured, you won't be disappointed.