Harry Papadopoulos is a man who seems to have it all… Big house, Rolls Royce, a very successful Greek food production business, and three children who all live in the lap of luxury.
Harry is also a man with ambition and his latest project, a shopping plaza in London, has been funded by multi-million pound loans from the banks. But when the bottom falls out from the banking system, he is left with the prospect of insolvency, save for one business that cannot be taken from him, a chip shop which he co-owns with his estranged brother, Spiros.
When Harry decides that he wants to sell the shop, Spiros proves to be a “fly in the ointment” by wanting the brothers to return to their childhood roots…
I blundered on this film purely by chance for the reason that it is only being played in selected cinemas in the Cineworld chain in the UK, and this is a shame because this is one of the warmest indie dramedies that I’ve seen for a long time.
The idea of the current recession being the central plank for a storyline is nothing new, I mean Tom Hanks tried to tell this story a couple of years ago with “Larry Crowne”. But, where this story succeeds where Hanks’s film wasn’t as successful is the life and energy that it brings into the story.
Director/scriptwriter Markus Markou has scripted film where character and situation are interlinked, with the character taking the main focus. Apart from Harry’s bitterness at losing his business, this is a warm story about the importance of family and the lengths that they will go to to support each other.
Admittedly, the first fifteen or twenty minutes do appear to be a bit dull and sterile, but I feel that this is deliberate to wrong foot the viewer for the force of nature that is the character of Uncle Spiros.
Stephen Dillane (currently being seen in “Game of Thrones”) is well cast in the role of Harry. Right from the outset Dillane effectively portrays Harry as a character has a snobbery of somebody who has forgotten his roots in the pursuit of wealth and security for his family. He treats the hired help with an atmosphere of superiority, his friendships have descended to the level of being mere business acquaintances and his children are affected as a result of his ambition.
When Harry and his family are forced to relocate to the chip shop, Harry has a relationship with the business where on the one hand he rails against moving there with his family, whilst on the other he seeks to use his business savvy to exploit a profit whilst looking to sell it as a going concern, rather than as an empty shell.
The life and soul of the story is embodied in the character of Spiros, portrayed by Georges Corraface. Corraface gives the character of Spiros a believable life and energy whilst maintaining a gentle core to him that hints at the underlying depths of sorrow and burden of brotherhood that becomes apparent as the story progresses.
Harry’s three children have prominent roles throughout the film with Frank Dillane (Tom Riddle in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”) portraying the elder son James, a gentle soul who’s confidence is affected by a stammer and his father’s desire to be in the family business even though he wants to be a horticulturist, Georgia Groome (“Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging”) portraying the spoilt daughter Katie who’s initial dislike of her situation changes into a reluctant acceptance then, eventually, into throwing herself into the family’s enforced circumstances with the aid of a romance with Mehmet (Cesare Taurasi), a boy from the kebab shop from across the road. and Thomas Underhill in the role of the over-eager, younger son… and business genius, Theo.
Alongside Katie’s romance with Mehmet, Harry is afforded a friendship and slow building romance through the course of the film with the character of Sophie, portrayed by Cosima Shaw. As with the character of Spiros, she is a character with hidden layers as she is introduced as an accountant responsible for bringing together a rescue package for Harry’s business, but the character also shows a more personal interest in Harry’s plight, alongside a need to escape the lifestyle that she has been living. The partnership between Dillane and Shaw is gentle and doesn’t push the obvious romantic partnership button, with the characters developing a relationship based on a professional concern on Sophie’s part which changes to personal interest and only officially becomes a romantic interest later on in the film, albeit with some hinting during a photo montage roughly halfway through the film.
The supporting characters are wide and varied for such a small scale indie production, most notably Selina Cadell in the role of Mrs Parrington, the Papadopolous’s house-keeper/nanny and Harry’s voice of reason, George Savvides in the role of Hassan, rival kebab shop owner and Mehmet’s father, and Ed Stoppard in the role of the odious liquidator/venture capitalist Rob.
“Papadopolous and Sons” will no doubt attract comparison with “East Is East” due to the setting of a chip shop and the film’s treatment of immigrant cultures, in the case of this film predominantly Greek with a slight hint of Turkish, but whereas “East Is East” was built on belly laughs, “Papadopoulos and Sons” is predominantly a drama with gentle humour built in to work with the storyline.
It’s also a film with a lesson woven within it that although money can help a person attain happiness, it’s not the be all and end all with bonds of family being the true driving factor.
By the end of the film, you’ll be left with a smile on your face, a wish for an Uncle Spiros in your family and a hankering for a fish supper. Hopefully, this film will receive a wider audience beyond its current limited release.