Papadopoulos and Sons Movie Review
Some meaty themes and complex performances add badly needed weight to this somewhat simplistic British comedy-drama. So even if it feels a bit awkward and draggy, there's life in the characters that makes it surprisingly engaging. And the somewhat corny approach is so gentle and nice that we can't help but smile.
It's set in the wake of the economic crash, as Greek entrepreneur Harry (Stephen Dillane) finds himself in trouble after expanding his food empire into property development. A single dad, he relies on nanny Mrs Parrington (Cadell) to help care for his three kids: law student James (Frank Dillane) would rather be a gardener, 18-year-old Katie (Groome) only thinks about shopping and boys, and youngest son Theo (Underhill) thinks he's already a tycoon. So when administrators (Stoppard and Shaw) arrive to enforce some downsizing, it's a big shock. And for Harry, it becomes unbearable when his estranged black-sheep brother Spiros (Corraface) refuses to sell the family's defunct fish and chips cafe and insists that they re-open it together.
Yes, this is one of those plucky little films where, once the premise gets everything lined up, we know exactly where it's heading. Fortunately, Dillane's Harry has a sharp-edged cynicism that combines intriguingly with his desperation, so we root for him to swallow his pride and stop behaving like an idiot just long enough to learn the obvious important lesson. And the events play out in a nicely low-key way that never quite tips over into farce. Yes, it's all a tug-of-war between "sensible" Harry and "crazy" Spiros who represent ruthless modern-day business practices and old-world community values.
There's never a moment of real tension, but several scenes surprise us with their genuine wit and real emotions, especially the simple sideplots involving Katie and James (Theo isn't much more than comic relief). And it's writer-director Markou's humane, grounded approach that holds our attention even when things get rather corny. It's never remotely edgy, and the comedy never makes us laugh out loud, but the important themes get under our skin to remind us that success has little to do with money, really.