While Tsangari may have borrowed Attenborough's "British phlegmatic tenderness," as she calls it, Attenberg is worlds away from a nature documentary.
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A boldly conceived assemblage of diverse and seemingly random fictional materials, Athina Rachel Tsangari's Attenberg is concerned with nothing less than those hardy perennials: sex, death, and modernity. And coming of age a little too late.
The father's resignation to that fate is, on balance, the most compelling aspect of the film, and I will not readily forget the sight of him staring out over the town and mourning the long history of his homeland. "We built an industrial colony on top of sheep pens," he says, "and thought we were making a revolution." Maybe Attenberg is topical, after all.
Tsangari proves she's one of the freshest voices in European cinema with this offbeat character piece.
Attenberg shares with the Oscar-nominated "Dogtooth" a weakness for overgrown innocence and deadpan perversity.
With its persistent inventiveness and a lack of unearned sentimentality, the movie provides an antidote to a lot of lazily produced dramas about death, American or otherwise.
What a strange, moving, puzzling, funny, frustrating and ultimately absorbing film this is.
Stripped of all its random weirdness, Attenberg has the premise of a classic Yasujiro Ozu drama like "Late Spring," with its relationship between a widower approaching death and a devoted daughter who needs to leave the nest before it's too late.