Film Review: The Man With The Answers –Raindance Film Festival 2021

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer and Director:  Stelios Kammitsis

Proving that the journey is more important than the destination, this homoerotic road movie set in Greece, Italy and Germany is far more interesting when its heroes Victoras and Mathias are travelling and their friendship is on precarious terms. The ‘Is he?’ ‘will he?’ tension established in the film’s first half is so absorbing that it’s unfortunate that their expedition is over so fast.

Victoras (a suitably hangdog performance by Vasilis Magouliotis) leaves Greece when his grandmother dies. It seems that he has a lonely life there; he trampolines alone at the dock before working in silence at a furniture restorer. After the funeral, he decides to go on a road trip. There’s nothing left in Greece for him.

On the ferry to Italy, he meets Mathias, a German with money in his pocket and a month to spend it in. The confident German tries to impress the awkward Greek by stealing an overpriced sandwich. Their first conversation ends abruptly with Victoras walking off, but eventually Mathias’s persistence wins and he’s soon sat in the passenger seat of Victoras’s Audi.

Anton Weil does well to make Mathias a likeable character, but it is hard to believe that Victoras would let the smarmy and needy German into his car in the first place. There’s no sense of desire at this point or even of friendship. However, once Mathias is in the car the rest of the film, sedate even in its brief 80 minutes, feels believable, and Mathias’s knowledge of life complements the innocence of Victoras. The sexual tension between them doesn’t really arise until the two men gatecrash a heterosexual wedding in the Italian countryside, an ironic catalyst from writer-director Stelios Kammitsis.

The early moments in the film, like when Victoras’s torso bounces into camera shot as he exercises on his trampoline to the tune of Sam Fender’s Dead Boys or when he visits his dying grandmother in bed underneath a blinking fluorescent light bulb in the municipal hospital, reveal  Kammitsis’s eye for detail. Later as the men drive through the Italian mountains, Kammitsis’s vision is more keen to show the wide landscapes as the road to Germany loops up inclines or hugs the side of the valley.

Victoras and Mathias reach their destination too speedily and the dive into the domestic is a shock, and family dynamics muddle the film’s main relationship. Nevertheless, one of the last shots of the film frames a future where sexual orientation is no longer something that needs to be discussed. And perhaps this is one of the answers hinted at in the film’s title rather than the game 20 Questions that they play to pass the time.

Despite the mobile phones on show, The Man With The Answers, with its theme of repressed desire, feels like an old film, but the fragile romance and the performances by Magouliotis and Weil are almost irresistible.  It’s a journey worth taking.

The Man With the Answers is screening at the Raindance Film Festival 2021.

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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