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In the Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand

Two Greek friends in search of an elusive porn star from the 1990s embark on a dazzling journey peppered with imagination, allegory and copious filmic ruses - from the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM THE TALLINN BLACK NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL

Antonis (Makis Papadimitrou) and Christos (Michalis Sarantis) share a small flat in Athens, and they also work together as musicians. They are both infatuated with a soft porn star from the 1990s called Laura Durand. They watch her videos repeatedly, until one day a fragment magically appears in the middle of the footage. In it, Laura is desperately crying for help. The two friends immediately embark on an incredible adventure is search of the elusive female.

They follow a number of clues and tips, going from one surprising corner to the next. A very unusual tour of Greece. At first, they interact with a group of hippies. Christos engages with a beautiful woman called “Sunbeam”, the first one he has had sex with in years. Next they visit an old lady in a large house, and then a very peculiar hermit. But are those just red herrings or are they on the right track? Will they encounter and rescue their much beloved muse? Or is she no more a figment of the prolific imagination of two young men obsessed with music and porn?

A different cinematic device is used for each step of their journey, ranging from plush 1970s aesthetics to split screens, black and white, pixelated, fuzzy and grainy images. As in an an old television set. A nostalgic tribute to a bygone era, to experimental film and also to music videos. The sound score is pervasive. Jaunty tunes bolster the narrative throughout, and keep your adrenaline pumping . Think of James Bond meets Boogie Nights (PT Anderson, 1998) and you are halfway there.

Dimitris Bavellas’s second feature film is a feelgood comedy aimed at young adults, particularly males. It’s likely to please teenagers, too. It is, as the film title suggests, a strange movie. It blends so many filmic devices that it becomes a little jumbled up. Sometimes the tricks (such as the constant changes of texture) feel gratuitous. Plus there are some indecipherable intertitles, and I’m not sure of their purpose. There’s also an element of cancer and constant talks of a biopsy, but I could never work out how this ties up to the story, neither narratively nor allegorically. Perhaps a little too ambitious, but still worth a viewing.

In the Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand has just premiered in Competition at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.


By Victor Fraga - 25-11-2019

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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