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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Aligned ***

Updated: Mar 15



Starring: Panos Malakos, Dimitris Fritzelas, Mantalena Papadatou 

Director: Apollo Bakopoulos 

Country: Greece

 

Alex (Fritzelas) is a dancer living in New York City with his girlfriend (Papadatou). When he is invited to spend three months studying at a prestigious dance school in Athens, he is overjoyed to be returning to his native Greece for a while. Upon arrival, he is paired up with Aeneas (Malakos), an exceptionally handsome gay dancer with whom he will both dance and share accommodation. As the two get to know each other, the connection they form through dance flourishes into real life, with Alex bewildered about the psycho-sexual feelings that performing with this man stirs within him.


The casting is certainly right here, because not only are these two young men very easy on the eye, but they’re both very talented dancers too. The film is at its absolute best when we see them practice together, their semi-nude bodies entwined and entangled, improvising and exploring the connection physically between them. As a film capturing dance, this is very successful, positively drinking the artistry of these two performers. And the eroticism and tension that builds between them in these sequences is palpable.


Narratively, however, this is pretty standard fayre. A previously straight man finds himself attracted to a man for the first time and has to deal with the fall-out of that... I mean, we know the drill by now. And though this is the central conflict within the film, when the issue of the girlfriend is tackled head-on, she’s despatched without that much bother at all. The story follows a tried and very tested formula, but it does it well, even if its editing wanders into cliché sometimes.


Let’s not fool ourselves that we’ll be watching for the plot, however. As an unabashed and unashamed piece of homoeroticism, this delivers in spades. Just don’t kid yourself that you need to watch it with the sound on.

 

UK Release: Premieres at the BFI Film Festival on 17th & 20th March 2024


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