Director: Alexander Voulgaris
Writer: Alexander Voulgaris
Producer: Eleni Bertes
Stars: Sofia Kokkali
In a dystopian setting, a political revolutionary gives birth to a boy who may be the key to saving Greece from an oppressive regime.
If you’re curious about “Thread,” and came here looking for a better sense of understanding what the movie is about, you’d best continue your search elsewhere. If you’ve already seen “Thread,” and found this review hoping someone might help make sense of the movie, this isn’t going to be to your benefit either. However, if you’re simply interested in a binary indication regarding whether or not the film is intriguing at all, that I can easily answer with a definitive “no.”
When sketch comedy shows do parodies of pretentious foreign language films bloated by arty symbolism, they resemble “Thread” to a T. Alexander Voulgaris, directing under the cloying nickname “The Boy,” presents a political allegory against a slight sci-fi setting where a resistance fighter births a boy who proves crucial in battling back against the regime. Outside of that incredibly loose concept constituting a “plot,” “Thread” offers only a miasmic mishmash of aimless ambiguity.
Playing the woman, Niki, as well as her child Lefteris once he grows into adulthood, Sofia Kokkali is the sole actor whose face appears onscreen. If not partially disguised by glasses or a mask, everyone else is only a torso, legs, set of hands, or disembodied voice interacting with Niki/Lefteris.
Should you want metaphorical meaning out of such senseless scenery as feet walking across broken watermelons in slow motion, you’re going to have to divine it yourself, and chances are you’ll be wrong. Voulgaris wrote the majority of the movie after it was already shot. Since no mouths but Niki and Lefteris’ are seen onscreen, dialogue was dubbed during editing, essentially making up “Thread” as it went along without any real roadmap to follow.
After the movie’s L.A. Film Festival premiere, the programmer responsible for selecting “Thread” exalted it as “a powerful film,” perhaps without knowing it never had a planned purpose. In the Q&A, the programmer went on to ask the director about “Thread” as alternate history. Voulgaris deflected, saying he is interested in the genre, but didn’t conceive his film to fit within that category. The programmer next asked about the extent to which “Thread” paralleled a subconscious narrative concerning the director’s personal family. Voulgaris demurred again with an equivalent of “not really.” Citing the lead performance, question three posited that the director has an attraction to strong women. Voulgaris grimaced slightly through his teeth in consideration and then said, “I don’t know.”
In other words, everything the programmer supposedly saw in the film didn’t actually exist. An audience member had his interpretation similarly shut down when he cited the stylistic influence of Luis Bunuel’s “Un Chien Andalou.” Voulgaris’ reply? “Not so much.” If a viewer has to fight this hard to find a movie’s context, and still doesn’t, maybe it simply isn’t there.
During the screening, the margin of my notebook became a column for tabulating the walkouts I witnessed. When that number hit double digits, I regretfully realized I was committed to staying behind when I wanted nothing more than to join the exodus. Someone had to document the disaster as a warning to others.
Two people took the exit aisle after a particularly bizarre monologue where Niki asks if someone wants to see outer space between her legs, then begs aloud for Yuri Gagarin to finger f*ck her. However, no one left during a rape scene, which one might think would be the most objectionable content. With a majority leaving at innocuous moments instead, the sense was that indifference proved a greater motivator for disinterest than disgust.
Someone bought a bill of goods when s/he mistook “Thread” for thought-provoking cinema. Washing obtuse imagery in colorful giallo lighting doesn’t elevate abstract dialogue to have intelligent intentions. Nor does it inject artistry into confounding cuts of a woman drawing on her nipples in lipstick, performing oral sex so that coded numbers will telepathically transfer, or symbolically speaking into a microphone made out of a previous torture tool.
“Thread” has nothing for me. Unless you consider a man cutting out his tongue so that his mind can be his only voice to be a daringly deep concept, the movie may not have anything for you to mull over either.
Review Score: 25