Sofia Exarchou’s striking debut feature examines the lives of a group of bored Athenian teens as they while away their summer in the abandoned Olympic Park left over from the 2004 Athens games. The deserted park, once the site of Olympic glories, now serves as defiled clubhouse for the restless group, who seem beholden only to their raging hormones and their own whims. At the center of the group are Anna (Dimitra Vlagkopoulou) and Dimitri (Dimitris Kitsos), who are beginning to explore their attraction to each other. Their newfound infatuation unfolds amongst the Olympic ruins, an apt setting that mirrors the decay taking place in the larger outside world.
At first, the two lovers are able to share personal vulnerabilities with one another that they otherwise mask in front of the group. The two take off on a romantic visit to a nearby seaside resort where they cavort with tourists, but an initially fun visit takes a dark turn. As their time together wears on, it becomes clear that this is no grand romance, but rather teenage infatuation in the pressure-cooker of adolescent machismo and economic decline.
Exarchou’s expert direction of the largely non-professional ensemble is impressive, particularly for a first-time helmer, while director of photography Monika Lenczewska’s stellar camerawork becomes a part of the action, a character unto itself, weaving its way in and out of the teens’ chaotic days and nights. With much to offer fans of the Greek New Wave and Larry Clark alike, Park is an urgent portrait of teenagers searching for their place in an increasingly turbulent world. (Scott Braid)