The Winter is a visual masterpiece! So entrenched in the visual aspect of the film, I viewed it 2 more times to capture all of what the film has to offer. There’s so much to experience. The Winter’s richly layered aesthetics are met with a simplicity in storytelling. Niko’s haunting story is expressed mostly through his moment to moment experiences, with dialogue minimally added as support. We are able to explore this film from our own perception of what Niko’s managing internally and externally, and every moment feels meaningful.
Niko (Theo Albanis) is a young Greek writer living in London. Escaping financial troubles and following his romanticized ideals, he hides out in his father’s abandoned home in the Greek mountain town of Siatista. As he uncovers the mystery of his father’s (Vangelis Mourikis) death, Niko’s own grasp on reality quickly declines. How could it not. His life in this old, run-down home is anything but solitary as more malice occupants hang around. The lines are frequently blurred as to what Niko is truly discovering and what’s a result of his own dance with darkness. Theo (Albanis) masterfully portrays Niko. His debut performance is impressive, capturing the essence of Niko’s turmoil. Efi Papatheodorou’s portrayal of Niko’s nosy neighbor, Philio, adds warmth and gentleness to the film. I especially enjoyed the lightness in Philio’s banter with Niko.
This film is dark and chilling, yet soft and beautiful. The fantasy dream sequences are stunning and the creatures that pay Niko a visit in his nightmares are utterly haunting. I was relieved for Niko as daylight broke each morning. One of the more unique features in the film is the animation of the bedtime story Niko’s father share’s with Niko as a young boy. The scene, inspired by traditional Greek shadow puppets, adds even more texture to the film. Every scene in The Winter is magically woven together. This story is so well presented, to watch it only once is an injustice to the film, and to the movie-goer. When the moment presents itself for you to see the film, do yourself a favor and jump at it.
The Winter is a Greek fantasy drama written and directed by Konstantinos Koutsoliotas and co-written and produced by Elizabeth E. Schuch. An interview will will follow shortly.