Opening on a line of bus after decaying yellow bus, ‘Stratos’ immediately declares its intentions: the new hitman film from Greek writer-director Yannis Economides is all about repetition.
The film is shot in a fairly sanitized visual style, featuring clinical framing and desaturated palettes that should look familiar to fans of another contemporary Greek filmmaker, Yorgos Lanthimos of Dogtooth notoriety. It looks as drab as ‘Stratos’ feels, and each scene ends by drifting to black, as if the camera has simply stopped paying attention and nodded off to sleep. The score is a lonely guitar melody that constantly riffs on the same theme. It uses the keen effect of adding a delay loop to the soundtrack of several scenes that take place in an underground tunnel. The screenplay is also redundant by design. Characters frequently repeat themselves, rephrasing and changing emphases to keep driving a point home long after it has been received.
When one character exclaims, “It’s always the same shit!” they may well be referencing the indistinguishability of many modern crime dramas. Unfortunately, like its title character, ‘Stratos’ just can’t break the cycle and falls in with those from which it craves distance. Nevertheless, the echoes of a truly intriguing premise and the ever-growing potential of Greek cinema deem it worthy of a look.
The Young Critics Workshop is organized in cooperation with Photogénie.