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Koch Lorber presents
Hostage (Omiros) (2005)

"Go to the police. Tell them what's happening. Tell them from me. From Elion Senia."
- Elion Senia (Stathis Papadopoulos)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 14, 2007

Stars: Stathis Papadopoulos
Other Stars: Theodora Tzimou, Yannis Stankoglou, Minas Hatzisavvas, Arto Apartian, Marilou Kapa-Valeonti, Konstantina Angelopulou
Director: Constantine Giannaris

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence)
Run Time: 01h:36m:27s
Release Date: February 13, 2007
UPC: 741952309895
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ CC+C+ C

DVD Review

The plot of writer/director Constantine Giannaris's Hostage (Omiros) is based on actual events, in which a heavily armed young Albanian man took control of a Greek bus in 1999 with the expected tragic results, though the path did take some odd turns along the way. Stathis Papadopoulos plays the Albanian Elion Senia, and Giannaris tries to go for a claustrophobic documentary feel (handheld camera—check) in telling this story that touches on, among other things, international immigration, racism, family, and media.

That's a whole lot of material to stir around in a 95-minute movie, and unless you have a working knowledge of the apparent Greek/Albanian tensions, the punch of the subject matter may not be as striking as it should. Giannaris tries to fill in the backstory with flashbacks on Papadopoulos' Senia as a way to make us understand why he does what he does. And of course, there's the obligatory mixed bag of hostages that spark more verbal back-and-forth of issues to be raised as the Greek authorities and media begin to turn Senia's mission into a poorly handled circus.

What makes Giannaris' film a bit unique is the way he explores the social commentary like a Greek Oliver Stone, using some black humor like a low-budget distant cousin of Natural Born Killers. As the news of Senia's "situation" gets more and more coverage, the scenario threatens to become more about televised fame than achieving a mission, and that element briefly sends Hostage off on an unexpected tangent, all before leading to the final confrontation. And like the injection of things like media-based humor, Giannaris takes a hard right turn with the climax, where the lines of separation between hostage and gunman begin to blur.

I'll toss Giannaris some brownie points for the way he tells the story, but the problem is I found myself struggling to make a connection (good, bad or otherwise) with any of the leads. Papadopoulos can certainly sweat and point a gun well, but I never found an identifiable layer to latch onto, to either hate or cheer, and not having that sensation for the main hostage taker was nothing short of problematic for me. It made identifying with or having compassion for the cause more difficult, and it eventually made the resolution seem almost uneventful.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: It may be 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, but the transfer isn't all that impressive. Colors are somewhat drab for the most part, even if you give Constantine Giannaris an inch or two leeway because he was trying to make it look coarse. Edge details are soft, black levels are pretty murky and there's the occasional instance of specking.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Greek/Albanianno


Audio Transfer Review: The original Greek/Albanian dialogue track has been issued here in 2.0 surround, though it's closer to a basic stereo presentation. A couple of smallscale rear channel cues are about all there is here (things like a circling helicopter), and that leaves the mediocre voice quality. Some sequences sound slightly flat, almost tinny, while others sound somewhat better. Even at it's best, the track lacks a sense of bottom end throughout, making the experience less than it should be.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Gilles' Wife, Nathalie..., The Syrian Bride
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The formal street version should have a making-of featurette, a trailer and TV spot, but I can't guarantee that. Hence, your mileage may vary. There are, however, three other trailers on my screener, and anytime I can ogle Emmanuelle Béart for a few minutes life is good.

The disc is cut into 10 chapters, with optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

Unusual in spots, but overall a hostage story that I couldn't connect with. I had no real concern for any of the characters and Constantine Giannaris's attempt at stinging social commentary was just lost on me, due to little previous knowledge of his subject.

 


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