Adam Cook’s review:
Greece is proving to be a hotbed for filmmaking talent with Attenberg being the next breakout indie hit from the region. Unfortunately it pales in comparison to its native competition with a story that attempts to explore the big themes of love, sex and death but ultimately says very little.
In many ways it reminds me of a Miranda July film albeit less irksome but just as self-aware. You have the typical quirky lead characters who have never quite grown up or found a place in the world and the seemingly incongruous scenes of random dancing and a strained archness. July’s films make me want to smash shit up so it is to Attenberg’s credit that all it evokes is a sense of apathy but given its reputation I was still hoping for a more positive reaction.
It is a film that is coldly playful in tone with a detachment that matches the protagonist’s attitude to the world. She is a woman repulsed by sex and who struggles to fit into a world she never truly understands. Her fascination with David Attenborough documentaries makes her, and her only friend, act out in animalistic ways. The scientific detachment recalls the films of Greenaway whilst the industrial and modernist location is similar to Antonioni’s Red Desert yet it never probes the themes it sets-up. It may question the dislocation of modern living and our animalistic relationship with sex and death as well as embracing life but it struggles to explore such issues in any meaningful way, instead favouring peculiar scenes that add little to the audience’s understanding of the character or the world she inhabits.