Suffused with shades of gold and jade, Argyris Papadimitropoulos's Suntan looks like a sunny Eric Rohmer film, but plays more like a gloomy Claude Chabrol.
Kostis Makridis (Chevalier's Makis Papadimitriou), a new doctor on the 800-person Greek island of Antiparos, resembles a miniature John C. Reilly with his rumpled brow and fuzzy hair. In this close-knit community, everybody knows everybody, but instead of treating him like the newcomer in The Wicker Man, which also ends badly (extreme understatement), the locals are friendly and welcoming. Nonetheless, Kostis keeps to himself throughout the lonely winter months until summer arrives and the 42-year-old bachelor treats 21-year-old tourist Anna (Elli Tringou) for a minor scooter mishap. While her obnoxious friends tease the stiff-looking physician, Anna flirts shamelessly. When she invites him to join them at a clothing-optional beach, he takes her up on the offer—though he brings along hat and shorts.
Anna may have a sort-of boyfriend, but that doesn't deter Kostis from returning. Soon, he's the group dad. He doesn't get their jokes, but he enjoys the dancing, the kissing, and the affectionate, if ambiguous attentions of the lovely (and often nude) Anna. Then he becomes obsessed, and it all goes to shit, which makes this humorless film increasingly difficult to watch. Papadimitriou skillfully disappears into the skin of his troubled protagonist, but it's a performance that's easier to admire than to enjoy.
Suntan screens at Grand Illusion between March 24 and March 30. See Movie Times for more details.