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by Birgit Schrumpf

Argyris Papadimitropoulos, Greece/Germany

Kostas (Efthymis Papadimitriou), the new doctor, arrives by ferry. It is Christmas time at this small Greek island. A few red light bulbs bring some color into the rainy and morbid atmosphere. Kostas is broodily watching the locals celebrating. He listens to their stories of summer with promises of tourists and easy women for sex.

When summer comes with bright sunshine, blue skies and a turquoise sea, Kostis gets caught by the lightheartedness of a young group of tourists he is treating in his clinic. Particularly Anna (Elli Tringou) fascinates him with her flirtatious behavior. Casually she invites him to meet them on the beach. His sullen face lights up and next day he marches towards the nudist beach. Anna and her entourage reluctantly humor him, especially as he comes with beers for all. Later he joins them at the night club enjoying the crazy sex-driven crowd, but has only eyes for Anna. She flirts, teases and plays with him like a kitten with its toy.

Kostas is totally charmed and helplessly in love. It's painful to see how little self-awareness he has. He just smiles, buys drinks and dreams. Eventually, the group of boisterous youngsters gets bored, starting to reject the middle-aged man. This doesn't stop Kostas from sticking around. Sulking, with suntan lotion caked on his face, he watches the agile young folks frolicking in the water behaving provocative and unashamedly seductive.

When his “new friends” are suddenly gone, he searches discos and beaches that now seem depressive places to him. The charm has gone - no Anna to be found. She returns after a three-day excursion and Kostas confronts her with unexpected anger. Anna is not only surprised but gets seriously cross, going off with her friends for an evening of drugs and dance in the tavern. Palpable tension and a sense of danger lingers as Kostas once more goes into the night looking for her.

Greek director Papadimitropoulos contrasts the young (mostly nude) fun-loving holiday makers with 40-year old paunchy Kostas who obviously has not been dealt the best cards in life. SUNTANexplores how infatuation becomes obsession and can turn into a creepy horror scenario. There are some repetitious scenes, but the performance of Papadimitriou as Kostas makes this deliberately discomforting drama compelling to watch. Tringou as Anna seduces with her sexuality and beautiful body. Christos Karmanis' lens captures the Greek summer sun and beautiful beaches with its warm colors, but also the uninviting winter feeling.