Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

TIFF Review: 'Standing Aside, Watching'

Photo of John Anderson By John Anderson | Thompson on Hollywood September 11, 2013 at 6:56AM

The heroine’s name is Antigone, but the myths at work in “Standing Aside, Watching,” are those of the American western, a western one whose heroine has more cojones than a dozen Gary Coopers. The film? A model of urgent, contemporary storytelling by Greek director Yorgos Servetas, with a sometimes spare, sometimes epic visual take on modern Greece and a story that synthesizes past and present, while creating its own drama.
0
Yorgas Servetas of "Standing Aside, Watching'
Yorgas Servetas of "Standing Aside, Watching'

The heroine’s name is Antigone, but the myths at work in “Standing Aside, Watching,” are those of the American western, a western one whose heroine has more cojones than a dozen Gary Coopers. The film? A model of urgent, contemporary storytelling by Greek director Yorgos Servetas, with a sometimes spare, sometimes epic visual take on modern Greece and a story that synthesizes past and present, while creating its own drama.

The empowered female seldom arrives more empowered than Antigone, or creates such an captivating dust storm of righteous anger. Played with delicious ferocity by Marina Symeou, Antigone returns to her backwater home town after a failed acting career in Athens, and finds the place the way Wyatt Earp found Tombstone. Antigone – in Greek myth, the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, and, a la Sophocles, the plague of male injustice – gets a job as an English teacher, finds a much younger lover, reconnects with friends, and starts to settle in. But her best girlfriend is in an abusive relationship with one of the town’s leading thugs, the criminal element has taken over, there is no law, no order and no courage among those who ought to have it. Antigone is no avenging angel, but neither can she resist getting down to business.

In “Standing Aside, Watching” – the thing we should not do, obviously, when foul play is afoot – Servetas makes grand, sweeping surveys of rural Greece, the glories of its mountains, the limpid expanse of its waters, and juxtaposes the natural beauties of a country in distress with the man-made calamities that arise when greed, corruption and unsavory appetites are allowed to run rampant over good people who say nothing. Servetas is not delivering a sermon – the references to the current state of Greece may in fact be entirely in the eye of the viewer. What he’s delivering is a thriller, albeit an intelligent, naturalistic one with a heroine whose only superpower is her conscience, accompanied by an inability to stifle it for the sake of an unhappy peace. The movie grabs you by the neck, Symeou is a wonder, and Servetas knows exactly what to do with both. 

This article is related to: Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto, Reviews, Reviews


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.