Reviews - Papadopoulos And Sons
Papadopoulos And Sons
Reviewed By Chris Coombes
Our hero, Greek immigrant and widower Harry Papadopoulos has it all: a mansion, business awards and a super rich lifestyle as a successful entrepreneur in the food industry.
But when a financial crisis hits, Harry and his family - shy horticulturist James, snobby fashion victim Katie, and precocious child prodigy Theo - lose everything except the Three Brothers Fish & Chip Shop half-owned by Harry´s brother Spiros who's been estranged from the family for years.
Harry and his family are forced to reluctantly join `Uncle Spiros´ an irritating caricature of a person with extravagant hair and (apparently) the secret to a happy life, to live above the neglected Three Brothers chippie. Together they set about bringing the chip shop back to life under the suspicious gaze of their old rival, Hassan, from the neighbouring Turkish kebab shop whose son forms a relationship with Harry’s daughter - in true fairytale fashion. Always in the background is the indomitable ‘Mrs P. a sort of housekeeper figure who dispenses wisdom whenever necessary to keep the group on track, but about whom we discover nothing.
As each family member works our how to have this new life, Harry struggles to regain his lost business empire. But as the chip shop returns to life, old memories are stirred and Harry discovers that only when you lose everything can you be free to find it all. Harry’s light bulb moment comes towards the end of the film when he realizes that ‘success is the joy that you feel’. This moment of enlightenment is supported by the fact that he is starting to form a romantic relationship with an accountant who, oddly given her professional training, encourages him to forget building an empire and stay at the chippy. As she resigns from her high-flying city job, she too becomes involved in the family business.
So, you get the picture. All a bit unlikely and, for me, totally predictable. This was a comedy so gentle that we almost didn’t notice it was funny. The central performance from Stephen Dillane was beautifully restrained and well acted, but was so dead-pan that it put a lid on any energy and spark the film might otherwise have had. Georges Corraface as brother Spiros did his manic best to inject some life and warmth, but it wasn’t enough to give the film lift-off; there were no surprises, and certainly no light-bulb moments for me. A lovely score of greek music likewise failed to give the film the oomph it needed.
Markou had some important things to say about corporate greed, brotherly love, race relations and family values. He has covered them all in this likeable and mildly entertaining film, but he fails to capitalize on his themes, and I had the feeling it was a film that missed its moment – it should have been made a few years ago, before many of us were forced – like Harry – to understand that success has very little to do with money, and everything to do with the joy that we feel. For me an irony of the film lay in the closing moments when we see that despite the family happily dancing on the pavement of a suspiciously benign London street, the youngest family member Theo is busy making serious money on the stock market. Was this Markous poking fun at his own longing to return to gentler times? Undermining his own preaching about the good things in life? I wonder.
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