“From the Edge of the City”

Greek Angst

Amos Lassen

Submitted as Greece’s candidate for the Academy Award for foreign film is “From the Edge of the City”. It is a film of many layers that appeals to all levels of society. Greece has been known to be homophobic and for Greek viewers this appeared to be a very angry film.  Dealing with rent boys, it is easy to see why it has been so controversial especially in the depiction of Russian Greek immigrants. Because they so want to get ahead in society, they are led t a life of crime which includes male prostitution. Together with that are many homoerotic overtones and open discussion of the characters’ lives as gay prostitutes

This film is classy especially the way it handles urban disorientation. There is a lot of flesh shown as well as cocaine use and inchoate homosexual activity. It makes you think and s complex but brilliant.

The movie is about those Russian Greeks who returned to Greece after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They are third generation young people trying to find a place in the society of their adopted country. Their lives are explained to us through an interview with one of the youth named Sasha and e tells us how they use drugs and sell their bodies as well as their relationships with their families. Seemingly, it is a Greek documentary about a modern Greek tragedy—in reality it is a hard and brutally honest film.

The cast is made up of mainly street urchins and this satisfies. The cycle of their lives repeats itself over and over. Just because it is set in Athens does not mean that the same thing could not happen anywhere. The poor suburban home setting is perfect and the cast delivers. Some scenes will hit you straight on so this is not a movie for the weak.

When the Soviet Union existed, Greek Khazahkstanis fled to Athens where they attempted to assimilate into the society. Like most immigrants they faced problems and had difficulties. The youth had the hardest time and this is why they turned to drugs and prostitution. They wanted a good life without working to achieve it.

Sasha, the narrator of the film calls himself Rosa Ponds when he is interviewed. He is a handsome youngster but harbors many conflicts.

He and his friends begin committing petty crimes and then move to drugs and hustling. The numerous subplots give the film a sense of wandering and with a little stronger direction this could certainly have been a tighter film. The boys eventually become involved as both victims and perpetrators of abusive behavior but Sasha gives us hope (with his strong behavior that all will turn out well.

The film has a true sense of verismo because the cast is made up of actual street boys. But the boys are eye candy so that makes it an interesting movie to watch. It is self-consciously hip movie about a wasted generation that goes through the usual downward spiral ofsex, drugs and petty crimes.

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