In a theater in Athens, they are showing a minimalist, postmodern adaptation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia. But the play is interrupted when a group of armed people led by a young man (Alexandros Vardaxoglou) enters the theater. They lock the actors in a glass cube that is part of the stage design, apologize for the interruption and ask some members of the audience to participate in the play. But are they actually part of the show as the audience assumes? Or is their interruption something more sinister as the actors’ reactions seem to suggest?
Interruption is an interesting excercise in the blurring of boundaries – between stage and audience, fact and fiction – wrapped in a sleek look and with quite some tension. Intriguing.
I think it’s pretty much impossible to watch the film without wondering where the lines are drawn: maybe all of it is a performance? Maybe we are actually talking about a hostage situation that is played out as a performance? Is the violence real? Or are they simply good actors? Do people actually get to leave? All of that, of course, is made even more complex by the fact that I know that I am watching a fictional film and am wondering about the performativity of the events in that film. And then, of course, there is the actual hostage situation in a Russian theater that inspired the film (at least partly).
Working through these layers of fact vs fiction, of course the question arises whether it’s really important to know the difference. For a while at least, the audience members participating in the performance/hostage are convinced that everything is part of the play, so for them it is. It is only when discrepancies start to arise between the expectations, actions and reactions that things are being called into question.
So the film does ask all these ontological questions and for me, they were a big part of what kept me interested in the film. But the film also works simply as a thriller. Vardaxoglou manages to infuse his soft-spoken, calm, mild-mannered director/leader of the hostage takers with a quite sense of threat and Zois cranks up the tension continuously. And last, but not least, the film looks amazing, working mostly with black and white to create visually stark boundaries that are not quite as stable as they look at first.
It’s an impressive debut feature, a mesmerizing and ambitious project that refuses to give answers but asks us to keep reconsidering, thinking and asking questions. If you can get into it at all, you’ll love it.