If you’re a Netflix subscriber with some downtime over the July 4 holiday weekend, or if rain comes through, you may be looking for something different to watch on the streaming network.
To the credit of director Argyris Papadimitropoulos and screenwriters Papadimitropoulos and Syllas Tzoumerkas, virtually every scene in Suntan (2016) — from Greece with subtitles and some English dialogue — is either all-out cringeworthy or very uncomfortable, which presumably was the intent.
Since this edgy film is a drama unrelated to the zombie/horror or thriller genres, that appears to be quite an accomplishment. Whether that makes it a good movie is up to the viewer to decide.
Note: Receiving somewhat mixed reviews from critics, Suntan is entirely adult content, NSFW, and should under no circumstances be streamed with any kids in the room.
As the ArcherAvenue movie review website explained, “this film will shock most, will upset quite a few, and definitely isn’t for everyone.”
Suntan is “an unflinching depiction of one man’s descent into an embarrassing vortex of desire, paired with a spectacular lack of self-awareness. Helmer Argyris Papadimitropoulos scores a bull’s-eye, in all senses,” Variety noted.
On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times asserted, “Following a pathetic, self-destructive antihero who lacks redeeming values or emotional growth proves a thoroughly unsatisfying journey in the dismal Greek import Suntan.”
In the film, Kostis, 42, (Makis Papadimitriou), a socially awkward and dour loner with a looming midlife crisis, gets a gig as the doctor for the small, sparsely populated Greek Island of Antiparos.
Once summer rolls around, however, everything changes, as hedonistic tourists descend on the island in droves in the cautionary tale about the beta male.
The chubby, balding physician becomes smitten with a beautiful, flirty, and carefree patient named Anna, 21 (Elli Tringou), who, along with her obnoxious and uninhibited friends, shows up at his clinic or treatment for a minor injury. Both actors are excellent in their roles.
Dr. Kostis begins spending time with Anna and her friends at the bathing suit-optional beach by day and in clubs/discos at night, in the process neglecting his medical practice.
“Inevitably, Kostis embarrasses himself by falling deeply in love with her. Humiliation and worse is in store,” the Guardian noted.
There is little backstory provided, but it is suggested that Kostis has washed out in previous jobs, which makes the whole cringe-inducing scenario all the more sad if not compelling.
“Papadimitriou has us hopeful for the schlubby Kostis early on as we wish him well keeping up with the youngsters, but the harder he tries to fit in the more painful it becomes to watch,” the Film School Rejects website added.
Anna leads on the lonely doctor on to some degree, but the film concludes in a very dark, disturbing place.
Although it culminates in August, the exact chronology of the film in is not entirely clear. However, realistically speaking, how long (not very) could someone keep up the heavy partying every night with its attendant borderline alcoholism and still hold down a job during the day?
It’s also questionable how at the height of summer, Kostis’ office hours would end at 3 p.m. even in socialist Greece, or that he would actually become so utterly indifferent to his job duties.
Bottom line: “If you stay in the sun too long, you’re highly likely to get burned,” the EyeforFilm website summarized.
With that said, Netflix viewers may watch Kostis self-destruct with the morbid fascination that you get from driving past a car wreck on the highway.
Apart from any profound messages that the filmmaker is trying to transmit in Suntan, here are a few takeaways.
Whether you’re age 18 or 80, or somewhere in between, however, having a crush on someone is part of the human condition — although obviously not to this extreme.
And loneliness, and the resulting desire to connect, can also strike anyone, as is a high-school-like attempt to try to fit in with the cool kids. To some extent, everyone is still in high school.
If you’ve seen Suntan, which is rated TV-MA for mature audiences only, sound off below.
[Featured Image by N_Sakarin/Shutterstock]