Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 88 minutes
Stranger Says: After encountering each other on opposite sides of a violent protest, a policeman and his rebellious daughter reach the Final Straw. When the rest of the family confines the two to their country house, they must decide if neutral ground still exists. The generational squabbles may feel cookie cutter at first—these kids and their phones!—but there’s some real heat to their throw downs, as well as more than a few instances where neither viewpoint seems to be all that correct. The story is intriguingly thorny, with lead performances that deepen as the gulf between the characters grows wider.
SIFF Says:Yiorgos (Dmitris Imellos), an officer of the law, is celebrating his birthday in a mobile police unit, decked out in riot gear as he blows out his candles. A Molotov cocktail hits the van and the team ceases the celebration, scrambling into the street to subdue the violent demonstration. Through the tear gas, Yiorgos spies a teen girl peeking around the corner…his daughter, Margarita (Nefeli Kouri). Happy birthday, Yiorgos. Back at home, the cop and the young anarchist go at each other’s throats, only to be stopped by Margarita’s mother Sofia (Mirto Alikaki), who demands that they take a trip out to their country home to hash out their disagreements. The trip seems to be a bust as both parties are unwilling to compromise on even the most basic level, an impasse symbolized by the abandoned houses and shuttered businesses of this once-vibrant community. When Margarita’s revolution-focused boyfriend Konstantinos (Vasilis Magouliotis) stops by for a visit, and Yiorgos’ cop friends overstep their occupational boundaries, anger turns to vandalism and destruction, forcing the embattled father and daughter to find mutual understanding. HAPPY BIRTHDAY starts with a literal blast, then spends the rest of its running time burning as strongly as the riots that continue to hit this economically ravaged country.
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