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Movie Review: Opa!

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Having struck out with my first two cinematic choices the other evening, I went to see Opa!, a film I hadn't heard anything about. It turned out to be a fairly typical romantic drama. A film with little depth and not much to say, Opa! skates by on goodwill built by the postcard-pretty cinematography and some likable enough performances from the lead performers.

Unfortunately, pretty images and a couple of watchable performances alone do not a good movie make. I am trying to figure out what the point of such a saccharin and predictable tale is. I sort of believe there was not a lot of actual artistic intent behind it (nothing against all of the folks who worked on and around the picture). I am more apt to believe it was intended to be something of a travelogue to inspire Greek vacations. Not for nothing, the islands do look gorgeous.

The story first introduces us to Katerina (Agni Scott), an independent, beautiful woman and a single mother. She is very popular on this small Greek island, running a popular tavern and restaurant. Katerina and her daughter come cruising down a hill on a bicycle in reckless, but fun, manner. Their recklessness chagrins three elderly women whose odd behavior and comments are liberally sprinkled throughout, a sort of — you guessed it — Greek chorus.

Meanwhile, we also meet a new arrival to the island, Eric (Matthew Modine). Eric is an American architect who has come to the island hoping to find the treasure his late father sought for so long, the Cup of St. John the Divine. He comes lugging all manner of new technology to help him in his goal. He meets up with British transplant Dr. Tierney (Richard Griffiths), a man who loves the island and wishes to spend the rest of his days there.

Anyway, as fate would have it, Eric and Katarina meet and a relationship blossoms. Of course, his work comes in between the potential lovers. The question is which way will Eric go? Will he turn his back on his goal of finding the cup? Of finishing what his father began? Or will he follow his heart and do the right thing? In this sort of film, is there really any way other than the obvious? I feel fairly certain that you know how it is going to go.

Matthew Modine does a decent job as the uptight Eric. He is a man in search of himself, so caught up in his desire to find the cup that he more often than not fails to see what is right in front of him. However, it is Agni Scott who captivates the screen as one half of our romantic duo. She lights up the screen, almost glowing as she lives her life the way she wants on this island. So far as the supporting cast goes, the frighteningly heavy Richard Griffiths is fantastic as the old school archaeologist. His dialogue has a certain elegance to it; I only wish the whole film was handled in that fashion.

The film was directed by Udayan Prasad and he certainly makes Greece an enticing place to visit, but other than that, there is nothing special to find here. As for the screenplay? It was penned by Christine Conchetta and Raman Singh and fails to take off at any point. It is about as generic as they come.

Bottom line. I went in with no expectations and I left with a smile on my face, but it was not a convincing one. Opa! is a rather harmless film. It has a few moments but can safely be skipped. The funny thing is that I also found this film was made back in 2005. I wonder where it's been the past four years?

Mildly Recommended.

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