SMALL CRIME – Review by Elliott D Moore, New York University

SMALL CRIME - Review by Elliott D Moore, New York University

I first saw Small Crime back in 2010. On a whim, my father and I decided to spend a day, during the last day of spring break of my senior year of high school, to drive two hours north and attend the Cleveland International Film Festival. Knowing little to nothing about many of the films being shown, we had picked 4 films at random and hoped for the best. Small Crime was one of those films. Then, just a few weeks ago, I was approached with the opportunity to introduce a film at this festival. An instance of near perfect unison that sometimes happens in life, I was again in the car with my father, this time during the spring break of my junior year at NYU. I was scrolling through the list of films on my phone, when I saw that Small Crime was being shown. I jumped at the opportunity to look back on this film; a movie that I thought I may never see again.

Small Crime was made in 2008 and directed by Christos Georgiou. The film is in Greek and is very much tied to the culture and soul of island life in Greece. It stars Aris Servetalis and Vicky Papadopoulou in the main roles. The film opens on a sleepy town, clinging to the edge of cliffs and nestled within a tiny island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. This is where we find our protagonist, Leonidas. A young, relatively new police officer, he spends his time attending to seemingly insignificant tasks around the Island. The most exciting parts of his day involve giving out warnings to mischievous teenagers and watching the Island’s only famous native, Aggeliki, as she hosts a popular nationally syndicated morning show. Leonidas is searching for adventure, for any bit of excitement to disrupt the day-to-day stillness that persists on the island.

Daily life in Aegean Greece is captured perfectly in Small Crime. Shot on an island that operates almost completely independent from the mainland; Small Crime manages to adeptly capture the small town normalcy typical of this area of the country. The film takes great care to insert long-shots that lovingly depict clusters of small white houses, unpaved roads in the midst of scraggly, green fields, and pebbled beaches that blend into the vast, blue sea. The camera delves into the tiny shops, restaurants, and homes of the residents who all know each other by name. It documents children playing on rooftops and locals conversing in the narrow streets.

Through this, the film is able to depict a close-knit community; yet a community that is also very much reliant on tourism to retain this way of life. Much of the film is permeated by the actions taken by local residents to enact measures that will bring tourism, and presumably economic resources, to the tiny island. These people’s daily lives are, for many, a tourist attraction in itself. An opportunity to see a culture so dependent on, and intertwined with, one another and the tiny island community they call home. Yet, everything that makes this island so unique is also what makes it so fragile. Every new tourist that may come to the island threatens to disrupt the culture they are helping to preserve.

A comedy, Small Crime, resists formula by focusing on the unique characters presented in the film. It does a fantastic job of endearing each character to the viewer by ingraining them with vibrant personalities that are indiscernibly tied to the Greek culture in which they live. From the nosy older woman who loves to spread gossip, to the Albanian handyman who used to work in the theater, all intermix and form a mosaic of personalities as important to the construction of the identity of the island as is the sea in which it is located. Like many comedies before it, Small Crime, is able to deftly depict the struggles and triumphs associated with figuring out what is really important in life; it is a film centered on the solving of a crime that is really about so much more. By the end of the film, this overzealous police officer’s journey to solve this first real case has taught the audience about family, that home is where the heart is, that a career isn’t everything, and of course, it has opened up to us its own unique definition of love.

– Elliott D Moore
New York University, Cinema Studies


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