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  In the Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand Double Fantasy
Year: 2019
Director: Dimitris Bavellas
Stars: Makis Papadimitriou, Michalis Sarantis, Anna Kalitzidou, Danis Katranidis, Ivonni Maltezou, Alexandros Logothetis, Nikos Hatzopoulos, Elias Kounelas, Mary Mina, Kris Radanov
Genre: Comedy, Drama, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Antonis (Makis Papadimitriou) is what might be termed a loser: he makes his income in a past it synth band in bars, his wife has left him and his young son, and he yearns for the days of his youth when he held so much promise, or thought he did. Now, life seems to contain no hope for him. But he has a friend, Christos (Michalis Sarantis), who might also be on the loser scale, as he has just had his unemployment benefit cut and to make matters worse, is secretly awaiting the results of his cancer diagnosis, so he may not be around for much longer. One evening they settle down to investigate their old VHS tape collection, and settle upon a homemade cassette compilation of their one-time favourite porn star - where did she go?

Wondering what happened to celebrities of your youth who dropped off the radar is all part of getting older, sometimes the stories are a comfort, sometimes they are a pity, and sometimes they simply reach a dead end. Director Dimitris Bavellas appeared to have been inspired by the tale of Bambi Woods, star of Debbie Does Dallas who was widely believed to have vanished from the face of the Earth, though she was eventually found living a settled life as a wife and mother; for a while, though, she was something of a cause celebre. That impulse to ask, "Whatever happened to...?" will likely never leave the world of fame, and so we had a made up story of a made up adult video star and the men who nostalgically pine to know where she is now.

It's not exactly a tale of someone trying to track down their first love, which would have been more romantic at least, yet in a way it was if your first crush was someone you watched on your television. Noticeably, we did not see any footage of the porn star, the titular Laura Durand (Anna Kalitzidou), actually in the process of performing what made her famous to these men, indeed we didn't even see her in a state of undress, which was either unnecessarily coy or unusually respectful in light of the subject matter, depending on your point of view. But it did mean a question began to creep into the mind of the viewer: what was the point of all this? It plainly was not intended to be titillating, so there was no hope for these schlubby men for getting up to a sexual adventure as they hit the road to find Laura, but then again there was no real humour here either.

It was certainly weird, and offered up a passage in black and white and other shots where Laura appeared as a "ghost", complete with VHS tracking lines, to entice the men further onwards, but as this was a fantasy construct of what they imagined the woman to be, what did it have to do with the person behind the cheap but glossy imagery on the tapes, magazines and posters? As Antonis and Christos seem to draw closer to their goal, they meet all sorts of weirdos, but again, where was the joke? Merely encountering someone offbeat or bizarre was not enough to sustain the mystery, especially when you were constantly judging these men and aware that they were headed for disappointment even as the journey grew ever more convoluted. The cancer diagnosis wasn't exactly hilarious either, and was presumably supposed to be poignant, yet you never felt anything for the characters because they never rang true. The film just bumbled along until the conclusion was reached, a conclusion that wrapped up nothing and did not give Laura any more personality than she had when we saw her on the tape clips. A baffling effort. Music by George Boussounis.

[In The Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand will be available on Digital Download from 31st January 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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