TETARTI 04:45 || 2015, Greece / Germany / Israel || Drama || Directed by – Alexis Alexiou / Written by – Alexis Alexiou / Produced by – Eleni Bertes, Alexander Bohr, Osnat Handelsman-Keren, Thanassis Karathanos, Talia Kontogianni, Kostas Lambropoulos, Effie Skrobolas, Theodora Valenti, Matthaios Voulgaris / Music by – Yannis Veslemes / Cinematography by – Cristos Karamanis / Editing by – Lambis Haralambidis / Art direction – Spyros Laskaris / Starring – Stelios Mainas, Dimitris Tzoumakis, Adam Bousdoukos / Running time: 116 mins.
Stelios, a jazz club owner, owes a ton of money to a Romanian loan shark. We meet him as he gets a 32 hour ultimatum to pay off his debt. At the same time, a strip club owner is in a similar tight spot with the same loan shark. He is the only alternative solution to Stelios’ problems, who comes up with a plan to extort his debt off him to pay off his own.
The tumultuous financial and political times currently experienced by Greece make it the perfect setting for a neo-noir. Wednesday 4:45 by Alexis Alexiou is the latest of such works. The filmmaker adds a third crisis to the mix, the identity crisis, as he presents Athens as a place inhabited by many foreign communities and a place where many cultures clash and leave the people in confusion, particularly through their reception of culture and music. Of this point, the greatest representation is the jazz club itself, which is far from being succesful and when Stelios introduces the band playing on the night, he starts off by claiming that many people thought him crazy for wanting to set it up in the first place.
Wednesday 4:45 is a story told in chronological sequence, chronicling the 32 hours. The restricted time frame of the story, however, is carefully balanced. It is indeed intense, but still feels unrushed and allows for a more rewarding exploration of the natures of the characters that populate the storyline. This is particularly true of the character of Stelios, a perfect antihero who under any other circumstance would probably be a villain. But Alexiou plays with the structure by allowing us glimpses inside his own throughts through narration and also occasional metaphorical visuals that briefly flirt with surrealism and offer an exciting if underplayed theme of contrast between dreams and reality.
Furthermore, rather than choosing to be totally dreary, the film is underlined by a somewhat deadpan comic and satirical tone that plays off the outrageous flaws of its characters. In true neo-noir form, Wednesday treasure its urban setting of Athens in winter, with its dark cinematography, interrupyted by the radiance of the electricity of the lights and the glows of neon signs.
Stelios Mainas is impressive as the leading character, as he carries out selfish deeds fuelled by his obsession with jazz and his club despite it being a lost cause. On doing so, he forgets about the other people around him, including his family. Such selfishness and obsession only occasionally troubled by his own struggles with morality, however, clashes with his good guy looks and soft spoken ways that make him come across as playing the part of the victim. One of the delights of the film comes from the complete opposite nature of the strip club owner, played by Giorgos Simeonidis, who on the other hand is loud and eccentric but at the same time also just as tormented by a crippling debt. – 4/5