A rather curious attempt at coming-of-age yarn, The Guardian’s Son (O Gios tou fylaka) has moments of charm without ever truly capturing the imagination.
Markos (Nikolas Aggelis) is an ambitious young tv personality, and star of a ‘candid camera’ type of program set in a provincial town. He hopes to be transferred soon to a sister station in Athens to make the big time. His attempt to shock innocent passers-by by leaving a real gun sitting on a park bench goes wrong when one of them has the temerity to pocket it, and Markos is forced to find the thief, who it turns out was actually in town looking for him! Their return to the town Markos’ mother grew up in will lead him to confront his past amid requests for him to feature the plight of the small town whose residents are all leaving for the city.
The Guardian’s Son is quite underwhelming, featuring distracting subplots and characters whose relevance to proceedings can only be guessed at. A deaf-mute character writes to King Constantine, while another fights addiction to drugs, and yet another with his wife. That none of these contribute to a sense of the village’s importance to the making of Markos is confusing at best, and the final crisis that will define him is rooted in such silliness it is hard to believe the drama.
The two male leads fail to inspire anything other than a desire for sleep, and female characters are only notable for their relative scarcity. The story moves at snail’s pace, and the only segment filmed with any urgency features a bizarre dream sequence intercut with the real-life action in such a way as to detract from its impact. Settings are charming in their way – rural village life in Greece seems to be burdened by the same poverty and lack of care as that of many other rural European locales – and the use of a minimal colour palette adds to this sense of depletion.
The Guardian’s Son just doesn’t have the material to carry a full-length feature – that it feels long at only 97 minutes is an indictment on its pacing, and yet the attempts to fill it out with subplot and minor characters fail. While its intentions may be worthwhile, it never reaches its lofty goal and when finally finished is quickly forgotten.Rating: