By Alexia Evripidou
Committed is the brain child of South African Cypriot Stelana Kliris who wrote, co-produced, directed and marketed the film, and has dedicated serious energy and time to raising funds via the crowd funding website Indiegogo to turn her dream into a reality. With approximately 125 people contributing to the campaign and one ‘angel’ investor, the film was fully funded.
As Kliris’ first feature, Committed is promoted as a Cypriot film about love and madness; a chance meeting between a man and a runaway bride. Ultimately, a two handed road trip following the development of a relationship between two people unfulfilled in love. Emotionally repressed George (Orestes Sophocleous) and quirky random woman in a wedding dress, known as the bride (Melia Kreiling), journey through the plains of Cyprus showcasing beautiful cinematography. Committed allows the viewer to fall in love with the country’s rich, amber-coloured fields and blue oceans but regrettably not the characters. The lacklustre couple takes an impromptu road trip towards Cape Greco, marking the path with inner insight and alleged love.
Visually Committed is truly beautiful and well shot. It takes the audience on a romanticised expedition through Cyprus’ stunning countryside, taking in both well known and underappreciated landscapes. Hazes of rich yellows, warm browns and inviting blues fill the screen evoking nostalgia and love for this geographically rich little island. Production wise, also top marks. Shot in over 20 different and aesthetically alluring locations ranging from the UNESCO Heritage site of Panayias Asinou Church, Tekke, Pervolia, Lefkara to Cavo
Creco and even Tseri. The location scout has well earned their end of shoot pint or ten. Similarly, the sound, lighting, music and editing was both professional and mainly effortless.
However, if by now, you are sensing a ‘but’ lurking, unfortunately you are right. As visually and auditory warming as Committed is, it’s sadly let down by a weak and clichéd script. I very much wanted to love this film, as I am keen to support the fantastic talent from the island, and although it is an excellent attempt from the production team, the film lacks plot, energy and drive.
Running away from their lives, the characters need time to figure things out. It is clear that George is having commitment issues but we do not know the bride’s motivation till the end. She is portrayed as a wild card and he a square, but neither is completely convincing in their stereotyped roles. He is a little warmer than his character and she a little more sensible than her mad one. The movie sees them trying to connect. Melia’s attempt is genuine, but Orestes holds back, making the connection with his screen partner uncomfortable and therefore leaving the scenes empty and often meaningless; it is ultimately supposed to be a love story. When there is connection between the characters, there is no real understanding of what their relationship has evolved into. At best the relationship is luke warm with moments of spice. Do they part as friends or potential lovers? It is unclear.
There are some funny moments involving goats and a puppy and also some tender moments when George discovers the bride for who she really is, but not enough. Also, the plot ends nearly as soon as it began, blink and you will miss it.
Meanwhile, the car oozes sex appeal. Acting as a literal and metaphorical vehicle, it drives the characters and narrative to their final destination. If there was ever a good reason to drive such a handsome open air vintage Mercedes around Cyprus is, then this is it. The film aces here with its open roads and beautiful Mediterranean aesthetics. Consequently, there is nothing quite like a road movie to allow characters the liberty of driving away from problems, riding into the sunset together, promising new beginnings and discovering hope.
With that said, making a successful two character based film (like the popular 1995 Before Sunrise) that is mostly shot in a car is a very ambitious task. Movies of this nature demand strong acting, dialogue and storyline, as this is what the audience is predominantly given to focus on. Any weaknesses in these areas can potentially consume the film. In my opinion, no amount of well produced / visually stunning scenes can escape this. It will not distract the audience from an unforgiving script.
I see what Kliris was trying to do with the film and believe it’s a very good first attempt; the film has potential to be so much more. Still, the visuals and feel of the movie is there, and this is worth seeing.
DIRECTED BY Stelana Kliris
STARRING Orestes Sophocleous, Melia Kreiling