Rough trade

Immigrant youths fight to survive in Athens, Greece.

IT'S NOT a boxing movie, but From the Edge of the City does have testosterone to burn. "We got big dicks," says 17-year-old Sasha (Stathis Papadopoulos), whose activities of choice are fucking, clubbing, and getting high. He's the handsome antihero of Greek writer-director Constantinos Giannaris' gritty vision of young, displaced Pontioi, or immigrants from the former Soviet Union who live on the outskirts of Athens. The story's angle is unwaveringly masculine, as men dictate women's fate. Sasha's girlfriend Elenista is idealized as a virgin bride, but others are whores to be bought, sold, or traded in for newer models. (This kind of machismo allows for plenty of homoerotic scenes—muscles, sweat, stubble, and "blowback," a kiss-like act of sharing a joint, are lasting images.)


directed by Constantinos Giannaris with Stathis Papadopoulos runs September 22-28 at Varsity

Avoiding romantic shots of the Acropolis or the Mediterranean coastline, cinematographer George Argiroiliopoulos focuses instead on generic sprawl, mirroring the grim lives of Sasha and his friends, who are involved in pimping and hustling. Uneducated and uninterested, this gang doesn't really belong to Greece or Russia; some of the boys don't even know what happened in Chernobyl. But while the Pontioi are rejected by native Greeks, they in turn express racist anti-Albanian sentiments.

Accompanied by a techno soundtrack and jump-cutting between scenes as smoothly as a record on a DJ's turntable, From the Edge skips around to different characters, the most memorable of whom is the prostitute Natasha (Theodora Tzimou), a striking blonde desperately seeking anyone's love, including her pimp Giorgos' (Dimitris Papoulidis). Dramatic segments are intercut with a documentary-style interview between Sasha and an unseen narrator, a device that is fairly common in French film but feels contrived here.

While stylish, music-fueled films about ghettoized young men aren't new to American audiences, From the Edge is noteworthy because it doesn't moralize and judge its tragic figures. However, those seeking beefier plot and character development may want to look elsewhere.

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