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A sweet and whimsical film with the air of a fairy tale, Tailor reminds us that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. Cloaking a contemporary Greek issue within an old-school and gentle framework, it’s a slight delight that contains real insights into how economic crises can provoke unorthodox change.
Nikos (Dimitris Imellos) is a middle-aged man with a fine eye for detail. Tailor plunges us into his sewing regime early on with neatly rendered montages of the different processes that go into a perfect suit. He has inherited this fine-suit business from his father, who owes the bank money and is in failing health. Once his father is in the hospital, Nikos is forced to move his business on the road, offering his bespoke services on a street market.
There are great moments of comedy as the old-school tailor explains to people in the street the sheer amount of money and expense that goes into making a personally-fitted suit, making him an incongruous figure among the other sellers offering easy-to-wear, cheap-to-buy clothes right off the rack. Previously a men’s tailor, he suddenly finds himself a new and foreign customer: women. A previously solitary and particular man, there is a sense Nikos has never thought much about the other sex in his life. But thanks to a well-rendered relationship with a young Russian girl and her mother, Nikos starts to entertain and broaden his outlook on life; making Tailor a kind and satisfying feel-good tale.
Taking obvious inspiration from the Greek economic crisis, which devastated countless businesses across Athens, Tailor feels eerily prescient of small business capitalism in 2020. This year we have seen many businesses adapt and go mobile in order to survive. Whether its setting up takeaway service, online shops, or providing virtual options, reinvention has become a necessary reaction to the forces of the pandemic. In this sense Nikos was simply ahead of the curve. And one can’t help but think that, while an oddity in the streets of Athens, his mobile tailor concept would fit perfectly within the busy streets of London.
With shades of Patrice Leconte’s films — especially something sweet and gentle like The Hairdresser’s Husband — Tailor is attuned to the rhythms of work and the way one’s career can intersect with one’s life. Debut feature director Sonia Liza Kenterman’s experience as a production designer comes through in the unique look of the shop, which occupies a huge space in the imaginative power of the film, wearing years of history on its dusty shelves. And naturally, the costume design is pitch-perfect, with gorgeous women’s clothes that actually look like they would fit regular-size women.
Ultimately, while there is a marked lack of genuine conflict that could’ve elevated the material into something a little more profound, this is a modest and heartfelt film perfect for inspirational viewing.
Tailor plays as part of the First Feature competition at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, running from 13th to 29th November.