Sofia Exarchou’s debut feature Park tackles the hopelessness of austerity-ravaged Greece through the lives of a ragtag bunch of children and teenagers that call Athens’ abandoned Olympic village their home. Some appear to be homeless, while others only visit during the day, but for all of them the decaying village is the hub of their daily lives. Instead of going to school or spending time with their parents, the kids play violent games with – and against – each other and roam the vast premises aimlessly. These amusements include arm wrestling, walking barefoot, dog fighting and bellowing like wild animals.
Although competently directed and – for the most part – well acted by a cast of amateurs, Park doesn’t have very much to say. It’s a shame given its fascinating setting in decrepit Olympic ruins that are a potent symbol of Greece’s past and present ills, with which far more could have been done. Exarchou has unfortunately overestimated the watchability of her pared-down content, which feels half-baked.
The BFI London Film Festival takes place from 5-16 October. Book your tickets at bfi.org.uk/lff.
Maximilian Von Thun | @M3Yoshioka