KINETTA: Yorgos’ Lanthimos Debut is Both Frustrating and Fascinating

The first solo film from the Greek Weird Wave director finally hits US shelves courtesy of Kino Lorber

In writing about Dogtooth and Alps for Cinapse earlier last year, I noted how Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ films often focus on the trivialities people use both to define themselves and relate to others around them. It’s a recurring theme throughout his career, often to wildly hilarious and violent ends as his characters’ attempts to literalize the world around them fail to give them deeper understanding of their increasingly chaotic inner lives.

Kinetta, Lanthimos’ first solo film as a writer-director, is just as chaotic and (something I didn’t think possible) even more frustratingly opaque than his other films. Largely dialogue-free and intentionally meandering, Kinetta follows a trio of unnamed inhabitants of a Greek resort town in its deserted off-season. The Maid (Evangelia Randou) turns down uninhabited rooms and spies on what little inhabitants there are, while miming struggles with invisible assailants. The Clerk (Aris Servetalis) has a fascination with driving and control. The Detective (Costas Xikominos) loves BMWs and instructing the actions of Russian escorts he visits. The trio’s fascinations coalesce in their bizarre beat-for-beat recreations of true crime murders — the Maid is the victim of the Clerk, as the Detective films on. The act of recreating these murders both gives illumination into and an outlet for the opaque desires of their actors, but it’s clear that as their role-play increases in intensity that something else threatens to come to the surface.

Suffice to say, Kinetta is truly a bizarre film. All of the notes of Lanthimos’ filmography are there below the surface, from the mannequin-esque characters to the rippling effect their violent actions have on the world around them. However, Kinetta is also a film that resists clear and easy viewing. Lanthimos might as well be implementing the cinematic equivalent of social distancing, as he keeps his audience at far more than an arm’s length away from fully gleaning insight into the characters and world of his film.

What keeps us engaged, though, is how Lanthimos does paradoxically invite us to figure out the goings-on of Kinetta, to read as much into these three misfits as we can. It could be read that this is Kinetta’s overall goal: to get its audience to try and penetrate the inner lives of these characters in the same way that they feel compelled to recreate these disturbing events.

Initially released in 2005, Kino Lorber has now given Kinetta a stateside debut on Blu-ray and DVD. Kinetta’s a beguiling yet equally repulsive film that definitely isn’t for everyone — I’m not 100% sure it was for me. But, alongside Dogtooth and Alps, Kinetta provides an intriguing look into the formative stages of one of today’s best directors.


Kino Lorber presents Kinetta in a 1.78:1 1080p HD transfer with a 2.0 Greek Stereo track, with an accompanying English subtitle track for the feature. Detail is as well-preserved as it can be for Kinetta’s intentionally color-drained, muted color palette, with a healthy amount of film grain and overexposure that reflects the film’s low-budget, shot-on-the-run production style.

Special Features:

  • Commentary by Amy Simmons provides a much-welcome guide through Lanthimos’ enigmatic film. Simmons acknowledges Kinetta’s deliberately opaque story and structure, and draws much from the experience of watching the film–notably the seeds of disturbingly playful deadpan humor and blunt, claustrophobic violence that would flourish throughout the rest of Lanthimos’ filmography.
  • Trailers for fellow Kino Lorber releases.

Kinetta is now available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.

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