The lights dimmed, the audience hushed, and I wondered if this film I’d heard so much about could possibly live up to the hype. It was a tense moment as I waited for my first real glimpse of Papadopoulos & Sons. I’d interviewed the director, Marcus Markou, and one of the cast; I’d watched the trailer enough times to memorise it; in short, I’d got way more excited about this film than was wise. But let me tell you, Wanderers, I was not disappointed.
Harry Papadopoulos (Stephen Dillane), European Entrepreneur of the Year, seems to have it all; a huge house, vast, well-tended gardens, efficient household staff… and then the economic crash turns his world upside-down. Suddenly, he’s left with nothing but a fish and chip shop he co-owns with his estranged brother Spiros (Georges Corraface), and the whole family has to uproot to get the place running again. The brothers really couldn’t be more different, and Harry finds himself asking one big, important question: “What is success?”
Well, judging by the queue I had to join in my efforts to see this film a second time, the answer to that question is ‘Marcus Markou’s first feature film’. If success can be measured by round-the-block queues over an hour before a screening starts, there’s no doubt that this film was a hit in Dinard. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s a film with heart, and it was certainly the most cheerful film I saw at the festival – it’s not a film played for laughs but there’s some fantastic subtle humour in there. Indeed, I caught myself laughing at one point because Harry Papadopoulos reminded me so much of my Dad. There’s no farce to it; it’s a story about real people and real people are, frankly, hilarious.
Speaking of real people – the cast of this film are, to a man, impeccable. Harry’s kids, James (Frank Dillane), Katie (Georgia Groome) and Theo (Thomas Underhill) are brilliant and often act as catalysts for emotional realisations in their father and uncle, but there’s not a weak link in the cast. Even with very few lines, the likes of Fat Laki (Jimmy Roussounis), Phil the Till (Vangelis Christodoulou), Rupert (George Potts) and Nigel (Matthew Douglas) are not characters you’ll easily forget. Even Rob, Harry’s accountant, who’s a somewhat larger-than-life figure, is made completely believable by Ed Stoppard’s performance.
Fangirling over the cast aside, there’s a lot to enjoy about Papadopoulos & Sons. The soundtrack is amazing – some of the music is almost too catchy – and the way the film is shot is just brilliant. There are some great big, open scenes which the viewer gets to experience as if walking through. For example, in one such scene the camera follows Mrs Parrington (Selina Cadell) as she hands out mugs of tea, and it gives a real sense of being there.
Not that there is always somewhere we particularly want to be – the family have their ups and downs and we share in their misfortunes as well as their fortunes, but the few sad moments pass quickly and the overall feel of the film is upbeat. Indeed, I came out of the cinema grinning like a Cheshire cat and surrounded by other people who – at one in the morning, mind you – were stopping to have cheerful conversations about it all. I’ve already mentioned that the response to this film in Dinard was amazing, haven’t I? Well, it was – and deservedly so.
We’ve now arrived at the portion of the review where I’d normally tell you what this is perfect for. So let’s try it. If you’re feeling a bit down and need cheering up, watch this film. If you’re feeling pretty happy and want to stay that way, watch this film. If you’re disenchanted by the material world, watch this film. If you’ve just got yourself a portion of fish and chips, watch this film. If you’re craving a kebab, watch this film. If you’ve just got yourself a portion of fish and chips and you’re craving a kebab… Well, you get the idea. Basically, I’d recommend this film to anyone (anyone who doesn’t mind the occasional swear word, in fairness) – it might just change your whole outlook on life. It changed mine!
I’d give this 5 out of 5. Yes, really.
Eleanor Musgrove (is playing ‘spot the swordfish’)
This review is of a film seen at Festival du Film Britannique du Dinard, 2012. The film was not in the competition.