An unsettling piece of work that closely resembles an abstract painting; all of its uncanny elements make sense to the right beholder..
Step aside Ryan Gosling, there is a new driver in town. One who trades good looks for absurd quirks and puts a new spin on taking your work home with you. The gist of L sounds simple, it’s about a man trying to find his identity, however, the film is shot with a new wave Greek cinema style that throws convention out the window. The result is a film bursting with deadpan humor and bizarre principles, with philosophical implications underlining it all. When a character describes a nightmare as a good time, you know you’re in for a treat.
L follows a nameless man who spends all of his time not only working inside his car, but living inside it as well. This forty-year old man does not know much about the outside world because he spends so little time in it. The first time he leaves his car in the film is half-way through when his boss fires him for not reciting his instructions fast enough. Filled to the brim with irony, a driver being fired based not on how well he drives, but on how fast he can verbally repeat instructions is only one example in this film.
In one scene, a motorcyclist lies in the middle of the road after being hit by a car. The main character pulls up next to a gang of bikers who explain that people in cars act like they own the road. Drivers are in their own world because they can listen to music, control the temperature of their environment, consume food, and even kill others with their vehicles. The bikers discuss the irony of an injured motorist waiting for an ambulance, essentially a car, the very thing that nearly killed him.
Finally seeing the main character get out of his car signifies he has moved on in his life to start a new adventure. Though it still involves driving as he decides to sport a motorcycle instead of a car. With his new identity, people who used to know him well can barely recognize him. For him it is a completely new way of living. No longer is he protected from weather or in control of his surroundings; his way of life while still so similar is suddenly vastly different and more dangerous.
Being that L and Dogtooth shared the same writer, Efthymis Filippou (who also wrote Alps), as well as the same cinematographer, Thimios Bakatakis (who also did Keep the Lights On), it comes as little surprise that they have a similar feel. Both films contain characters that show little emotion, an unsettling storyline, and are filmed without much movement. The camera remains fixed for the entire film, even when the car is in motion the camera never pans. Instead the camera remains steady which a great juxtaposition considering there is so much motion in the film.
Aris Servetalis, who also appeared in Alps, wonderfully delivers his lines in a deadpan manner. He shows no emotion even when expressing himself. A feat that seems quite difficult but that is proven in a scene where he screams loudly while conveying the sense that he does not even feel the emotions he’s displaying. From the look of it his life is nothing admirable; separated from his wife and spending time with his children only involves taking a drive with them. His best friend pretends to be a bear and was supposedly killed by a hunter yet he is shown still alive. Nothing in the L universe is quite normal.
In any other film, watching a man continuously ram his car into concrete walls on purpose would seem bizarre, but in L it seems fitting though sad because of what the car signifies. This is the kind of world that Babis Makridis creates in his directorial debut. L is an unsettling piece of work that closely resembles an abstract painting; all of its uncanny elements make sense to the right beholder, while others stare, simply baffled.