Wild Duck Yannis Sakaridis

Wild Duck Yannis Sakaridis
Dimitris (Alexandros Logothetis), a telecom contractor forced to shut down his business due to economic woes, accepts a gig tracking down telephone hackers from his friend Nikos (Giorgos Pyrpasopoulos) in an effort to generate some income. It's a seemingly banal job; one that eventually leads Dimitris to a non-descript apartment building where a cell phone tower is hidden away in an otherwise empty apartment.

When not sabotaging the tower to see if the hackers notice, he spends his time discussing repayment schedules with loan sharks and getting quotes from various liquidators on his remaining office equipment. He also exploits the cell tower hacking device, listening in on the calls of an upstairs neighbour—Panagiota (Themis Bazaka)—coping with a prognosis of terminal cancer.

First-time feature film director Yannis Sakaridis approaches this material with a remarkably distanced, observational eye. Mostly, we follow Dimitris around, watching him listen to calls, drive to appointments or quietly stalk Panagiota as she attends doctor's appointments or fishes. Sakaridis never embraces any sort of narrative contrivance, allowing plot points to emerge through incidental conversations and logical comments that occur during a mostly humdrum daily routine.

This leaves the chief narrative concerns—economy and telecom controversy—taking on a life and a voice of their own. That we know of Greece's economic hardships and the 2005 scandal where the phones of top politicians in the country were hacked adds a dimension of scrutiny and political consciousness to an otherwise banal and mostly uneventful story. Questions about why the cell tower is hiding in an uninhabited apartment arise, making greed or financial hardships appear to be a likely motivator. Although, this doesn't necessarily account for Dimitris's preoccupation with the mortal concerns and hardships faced by woman has no association with otherwise.

Eventually, the conspiracy is revealed, as are the motivations of Dimitris, but it's all handled with the same languid, contemplative sense of cold distancing as everything preceding. That is until the climax, when Sakaridis changes the perspective and style of the narrative, making everything confrontational and personal, ultimately making the structure—one of mundanity and quotidian routine unknowingly adjacent to a significant, controversial act of inhumanity—have meaning unto itself. It's just unfortunate that in getting to this point, there's very little dramatic ire or drive to sustain much interest.

How people handle guilt and cope with powerlessness in the face of illness or bureaucratic omniscience seeps into every corner of this narrative. Though, what's simultaneously intriguing and ineffective about Wild Duck is that these themes emerge in hindsight, having little intensity before the many pieces are put together.

(Athens Filmmakers’ Co-operative)