I sit at the computer to write a review about Kinetta, Yorgos Lanthimos’s debut feature, available for the first time on DVD. My fingers rest on the keyboard, then I move a hand and I scratch my chin. Minutes pass. I type the word ‘nihilistic’ then I slowly delete it, letter by letter. I breathe heavily through my nose. This is going to take some time. And it won’t be fun.
You see, Kinetta is an enervating experience. Long shots, minimal dialogue, a world drained of other people and interest. Kostas Xikominos plays a plainclothes policeman, I think. With the aid of local photographer Aris Servetalis and a series of women, he meticulously reconstructs a series of violent crimes against female victims by re-enacting them. Whether these re-enactments serve any investigative purpose or are simply a voyeuristic kink is undisclosed and possibly unimportant. The characters themselves are uncommunicative and distant, somnambulant and boring. Everyone is pitched into the deepest ennui, incapable of conversation and their raison d’être seems to be entirely to provide Lanthimos with something to film. They are characters not so much in search of an author as in search of personality, plot, something to do. The policeman, we learn, likes BMW cars, but this is not so much part of his character as instead of it. A hotel maid (Evangelia Randou), who sleeps for a hobby and is predisposed to self-harm, becomes the latest woman to play the part of victim.
As they fastidiously film their reconstructions to pedantically detailed direction it is obvious that this anti-narrative is the germ of Lanthimos’s idea, which we will see again in Dogtooth and Alps, namely that everyone is playing games, including (obviously) the filmmakers. Of course, when we say ‘games’, we mean it in the sense used by post-structuralist French philosophers, i.e. games no one actually enjoys. But whereas in his later films, Lanthimos has moved towards a more (festival) crowd-pleasing black comedy, here he is encumbered by a portentousness that is unrelieved and makes for an arduous and unrewarding watch.
Now, I could just delete this and start again.