Antonio Paraskeva was once a major television personality but his fame has slowly been waning over the years. Not willing to give up the spotlight so easily, Antonis stages his own kidnapping in order to rekindle his media popularity. However, his world begins to collapse while keeping himself isolated in an abandoned hotel as he discovers the harsh reality of what it means to be a celebrity and the price of fame.
Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” It’s funny to realize just how right he was in this day and age. At one point, people fought for fame. Now? Now everyone fights to remain famous, or at least remain relevant. We have reached a point where we can no longer disconnect from media, and anyone who achieves an ounce of celebritydom is forgotten about just as quickly as they are discovered. In the feature film debut of Elina Psikou, she satirizes what it means to be a celebrity and what one person will do to remain in the spotlight. At least, that’s what it starts out as but as “The Eternal Return of Antonis” progresses, it takes a darker turn and does more to discuss what it means to people to be remembered.
Antonio Paraskevas is a man whose flame is dwindling. Regulated to morning talk shows, he realizes he’s reached the end of his television career, and stages his own kidnapping in hopes of revitalizing his career and public image. It seems like a simple enough plan; hang low at a swank hotel that’s closed for the season, but return at the peak of the coverage of his supposed kidnapping. However, the month long isolation takes its tole on Antonis and, for once, he is no longer focused on himself but on the world around him.
Going into “The Eternal Return of Antonis”, I expected an amusing but relatively simple movie about a man who fakes his own kidnapping in order to become famous once more. Granted, that’s what it starts out as and the movie’s plot seems deceptively simple yet, to me, it ended up speaking highly about the human condition. Rather the egotism of people and how we as individuals want to be acknowledge for our existence and, more importantly, want to be remembered. A broad statement that doesn’t apply to everyone, of course, but a vast majority do take great strides in making sure that we do something to prove that we were here. That we existed. Whether it’s having offspring to carry on our supposed legacy, or trying to remain prevalent in the public eye as a celebrity.
The first half of “The Eternal Return of Antonis” is lighthearted fun as we watch Antonis tries to keep himself entertained while he buys his time, and uses his “kidnapping” to achieve a peek level of newfound fame. With these moments, we get to understand how important public attention is to Antonis as he not only keeps a television on at all times, in every room that he uses, but begins making home-made television programs of himself to watch later. Even going so far as to try and make his own molecular cooking show, and failing spectacularly. These scenes are amusing yet sad as you slowly understand that he truly cannot function without fame and attention.
There’s an admirable achievement in technical direction in this part of the movie as well, particularly in the sound design. There is no score that fills the air during this part of the movie, and because it’s taking place in what is essentially an abandoned hotel on a coast, there’s an eerie level of silence. The silence is broken by the constant sound of television — the sound of Antonis’s life. Whether it’s watching his home-made shows, or having the news playing (in hopes of hearing coverage about his kidnapping), the halls of the hotel constantly echo the sound of the TV.
Although that constant influx of television coverage not only marks a change in the character but a change in the movie as well. While Antonis’s plan works well enough for a short while, the harsh reality of his fading relevance becomes more prominent. “The Eternal Return of Antonis” takes on a darker and more serious tone as Antonis feels his world collapsing in on himself and starts taking drastic measures to get himself, and his kidnapping, back into the spotlight. However, it felt like around this point when the movie becomes less about satirizing fame and becomes more about how one man simply wants to be remembered. It’s no longer about rekindling what was lost but instead about sustaining the image he once had — an adored TV personality. I became hooked by this shift in tone because it goes from amusing to tragic by capturing this ideal that is so important to people of wanting to be acknowledge and remembered.
“The Eternal Return of Antonis” isn’t the most deep or insightful movie you’ll see regarding the subject of fame, but it was still quiet good. I became much more invested in the movie and the Antonis character than I was expecting, particularly when it shifted into the darker material. And it was that shift that made the movie a much more satisfying experience since it was able to transition from material that most of us can’t relate to (fame) into something that we could. That people simply want their existence acknowledged and not to be so easily forgotten about. It’s the tragedy of Antonis and what it means to be a person.