Michalis Konstantatos – Luton (2013)


Jimmy, Mary and Makis are three people living their everyday day life in an entirely different manner. They seem to have nothing in common and normally they shouldn’t even know each other…

Michalis Konstantatos’ debut feature and LFF contender Luton (2013) paints a disturbing portrait of contemporary Greece, whilst lacking little of the recent Weird Wave’s deadpan satire. The film begins with a sultry and incredibly uncomfortable close-up of a woman running on a treadmill. Her heavy breath is amplified by the camera’s perturbing proximity, evoking a tight-chested degree of anxiety that will continue throughout this suffocating drama… Luton’s languid pace and sterile construction is required in order to make its final conclusion so powerful, yet there’s no denying that it makes for a laborious experience. An engaging and thoroughly thought-provoking debut, it’s just a shame that Konstantatos’ bold didactic and explosive finale is exponentially more enjoyable than its gruelling reality.
Patrick Gamble, CineVue

…Michalis Konstantatos’s Luton is a Greek movie in the style of Yorgos Lanthimos. I assumed that the title was some sort of Hellenic slang which Brits at the festival would misread, but no, it really does refer to the Bedfordshire town affectionately associated with Eric Morecambe. One of the characters, a teenage boy, mentions that he is heading over there to study. He is part of this film’s strange gallery of dysfunction. A series of disjointed scenes show us fragments of the lives of apparently disconnected people…Their existences are dramatised in hard, flat lighting and blank and deadpan style. Single, static shots will be held for long periods of time before cutting to an enigmatic close-up – or to a different scene entirely. When the connection between these people is revealed, the movie’s shock-factor is ramped up exponentially, though the origin of this creepy nexus is not explained. It is well made, but entirely preposterous: an exercise in style over substance. But there is undoubted style…
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

…Long, unrelenting shots follow the empty nothingness of his characters’ everyday lives, dialogue is kept to a minimum, and a milky-white mist looms over his frames, as the director gradually introduces you to his trio of heroes: a lonely lawyer longing to be touched – emotionally, rather than physically; a middle-aged shop-owner frustrated with the dullness of both his workplace and familial surroundings; a teenager stifled by the stiffness of his estranged, bourgeois parents…. Character connections are revealed in a shock-and-awe session at the film’s last few minutes and everything makes chilling sense, yet the viewer is left longing for more to chew on, after being introduced to a new director with an engaging viewpoint.
Joseph Proimakis, Cineuropa



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