EUFF 2020: SMUGGLING HENDRIX: Geopolitical Conflicts Make for an Amusing Dramedy

To enjoy Smuggling Hendrix, a film that’s deeply rooted in the political tensions in Nicosia – the capital city of Cyprus – one doesn’t necessarily need to be abreast of the geopolitical conflicts surrounding the nation. The film’s smart writing by Marios Piperides, who directed his script, seamlessly feeds information to the viewer throughout the film, ensuring that by the end of it, the viewer will grasp the prevailing tensions in the city.

It’s not bland exposure, though. The opening scene of the film has a news channel reporting the current standpoint of Nicosia, the world’s largest divided capital where Greek and Turkish sectors are separated.

Builds Premise on Political History

Yiannis (an effortless Adam Bousdoukos), a nugatory musician with little rigor and hefty debt, from the Greek sector of the city is all set to evade to the Netherlands in three days, we are told at the beginning of the movie. All seems to be on track until he goes on a casual walk accompanied by his dog Jimi (named after Jimi Hendrix, obviously) and as fate would have it, Jimi runs away into the Turkish sector – which the officials refer to as occupied territory, not otherwise. Yiannis manages to easily enter the other side and eventually finds Jimi.

EUFF 2020: SMUGGLING HENDRIX: Geopolitical Conflicts Make for an Amusing Dramedy
source: EUFF

However, Jimi is prohibited from re-entering the Greek sector, owing to the regulations in place. Yiannis refuses to let go of Jimi, and by hook or crook, has to bring him back.

Mainstream Premise, Rooted Treatment

‘How far…would you go…for your dog?’ would have been its tagline had it been a Hollywood action movie, and it righteously has the premise and atmosphere needed for one. The political tensions, the armies, violent rift from the past, and barriers to break, both by-the-word and metaphorically. I couldn’t help but look at Bousdoukos’ hair and think of John Wick whose love for dogs, as you know, took him through bloody trails. In Smuggling Hendrix, however, Yiannis doesn’t indulge in bone-breaking and pencil-piercing, and his perils are mostly practical. For instance, he pleads an officer to no use; he doesn’t find a place to safely house his dog; he is pissed by the sheer absurdity of directives imposed in the border.

EUFF 2020: SMUGGLING HENDRIX: Geopolitical Conflicts Make for an Amusing Dramedy
source: EUFF

The screenplay turns the crazy reality into a mouthpiece that voices the humanity that’s somewhere buried amidst the foreign policies, history, and proliferating tensions in the present. In the Turkish sector, Yiannis meets Hasan (played by Fatih Al), a Turkish-origin man born in Cyprus, now living in Yianni’s house in the Turkish that he had to leave as a child during the Turkish invasion. When Yiannis persuades Hasan for help, I took sides with the latter, as his insecurity and longing for a better life are evident. Yiannis and Hasan are like the two sides of the same coin, and this befits the city’s context. By placing these two characters in outlandish situations, the film paints a comprehensive picture of the real issue and its repercussions on the ground level.

A Comedy, Really?

Things get complicated and new characters – a drug peddler and Yiannis’ ex-girlfriend – enter, and it does stretch beyond its reach, especially in the last act, when the threat and challenge become physical making it a completely different movie to what we signed up for, a comical satire. But then, I was reminded, this was never a heist-comedy, although it plays like one. It’s very much grounded in its politics: a wine bottle in the shape of the map of Cyprus can be seen; another map with a bleeding design can be seen in the background. However, not once does it place the commentary over its risible story and conflict. To put in Barry Cryer’s words, “Analysing comedy is like dissecting a frog. Nobody laughs and the frog dies,” which is why I want to stop right here.

Smuggling Hendrix: Conclusion

Smuggling Hendrix is a largely remote concept to many of us, but its political relevance emerging from its silly conflict the protagonist is pitted against makes it an accessible, amusing dramedy.

Watch Smuggling Hendrix

Powered by JustWatch


Does content like this matter to you?

Become a Member and support film journalism. Unlock access to all of Film Inquiry`s great articles. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about cinema – get access to our private members Network, give back to independent filmmakers, and more.

Join now!

Similar Posts