Edinburgh Bites: A.C.A.B. All Cats Are Brilliant Review

Mike Scurfield catches A.C.A.B. All Cats Are Brilliant at the Edinburgh International Film Festival...

It’s typical, you wait ages for a four-letter acronym title to come along, then two arrive at once. Not to be confused with Italy’s A.C.A.B. (All Cops Are Bastards), this emotionally rich drama of mixed-up young adults and collapsing political structures from Greece, finds both the gloom and the glee in its tale of modern Greek life.

An artist and an activist, Electra (Maria Georgiadou) lives in contemporary Athens where she earns her keep babysitting young Petros (Alexis Harisis). Filled with questions about life, love and revolution, Petros brings his concerns to Electra, who does her best to answer. But really, she is as confused about these issues as her young charge. Electra’s boyfriend, a more militant activist, is already in prison, while parents pressure her to grow up, find a real job and get married. All symbols of traditional conformity that Electra doesn’t see as requirements for happiness. But is she happy?

Though there’s a clear political slant to A.C.A.B., with its community-action gatherings and fly-posting revolt, the real heart comes from the less polemical aspects of Electra’s life. As such, it’s more of a character spotlight than a narrative; one that lead actress Georgiadou endows with a tender emotional vulnerability and honesty. The narrative asks plenty of questions, but offers no real solutions except to find happiness where you can. Which is exactly what director Constantina Voulgaris’ film chooses to do.

Scenes in which Electra and Petros chat and play together form the jubilant highlight. Convincingly natural, their conversations appear almost improvised, providing realism and levity between the more tonally serious plot points. In fact, these moments of spirit are captured so well you can’t help but wish there were more. Take the conclusion; a warm, indulgent scene of pure, exuberant joy, in which the camera glides around Electra as she lets loose and dances at a street gathering. A much-needed reminder that we control our own happiness.

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out of 10

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