Stratos masterfully blends Yannis Economides’s universe with chilling, dark noir

Cypriot director Yannis Economides certainly has a stoic view of a very specific slice of the world around him; fixated on the struggling, underprivileged, and dehumanised masses living just beyond the fringes of society. A master of his own universe, Economides cooks up harrowing characters who test the limits of both man’s moral and immoral capacity in Stratos, unveiled at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival and available from 4 April on VoD as part of the Men on the Edge collection.

Stratos (Vangelis Mourikis) is a baker by night but hitman by day. His swift and silent executions, as well as the hefty pay cheques that accompany them, seem to be the main way of financing a ploy to break his old friend and saviour out of jail. The business is run by a man whom Stratos trusts blindly, but there’s no room for trust, a point more sorely highlighted by Stratos’ relationship with his neighbours across the street. They are an unlikely pair consisting of a tough, sensual woman (Vicky Papadopoulou) and a short, twisted man (Petros Zervos) so deep in debt, that their only way out seems to be pimping their young daughter out to the loan shark who looms over their lives – the same loan shark who’s trying to strong-arm Stratos into joining his army of thugs.

Economides has created a dark world in which his characters are trying to survive; blindly searching for their way out of this Dante’s Inferno through a multilayered mystery plot. Using long, mesmerising shots, Economides tracks their hopelessness, his frames oozing the minimalistic intricacy of a Japanese painting, thus highlighting the complexity of the maze his rats are trapped in.

Vangelis Mourikis delivers a haunting performance as the titular silent antihero, spearheading a masterful addition to the director’s collection of good men trying to do the right things in all the wrong ways.

To find out more about Stratos:

01 April 2016, by Cineuropa