You never know what to expect from wonderfully eccentric Greek director Panos Koutras, the man who gave us creature horror Attack of the Giant Moussaka (!) and moving coming of age Xenia (Cannes 2014). He is back on the Croisette with a film called Dodo. About a dodo...Just like you don't know what to expect from him from one film to the next, Dodo is not quite what you might expect from its synopsis: the arrival of the extinct bird disrupting a wedding does not quite making it the mad comedy it hints at. Rather the story focuses on the days leading to the big events and the all characters gravitating around a wealthy Greek family who lives in a big villa. Only it turns out they have a mere few days to save themselves from bankruptcy, here the crucial wedding to their daughter to a wealthy young man... but nothing goes as planned!
The tone and pace of Dodo is quite a lot more chilled out than one might have imagined, the director actually taking the time to introduce the audience to all these characters and give them all some attention and characterisation. There are secrets and lies, hopes and failings yet as we get to know them all they turn out to be an eminently group of likeable characters for all their flaws.
There is a chaotic energy to it all but understated at the same time, a relaxed approach full of warmth and humanism that works particularly well. That is not to say the film is not funny, with a few laugh out loud moments but we are laughing with the characters, not at them. The queer vibes are a nice addition, with these characters perfectly integrated to the story and never coming across as tokenism.
The dodo itself is responsible for many of the most comedic moments and the fact that its appearance is never explained adds a touch of surreal fantasy that blends in perfectly with the rest of the film.
When you have spend over two hours with a group of very engaging and amusing characters you would want to hang out with in real life, you know a film has been successful and Dodo is such a film, maybe too strange for a mainstream audience but a real crowd pleaser all the same.
Review by Laurent de Alberti
Star rating: ★★★★☆
Official Selection, Cannes Premieres.
Dodo. Greece/France 2022. Directed by Panos Koutras. Starring Smaragda Karidi, Nikos Gelia...