Arcadia Lost

Phedon Papamichael’s film, Arcadia Lost begins with the story of Charlotte (Haley Bennett), who is unhappy that her widowed mother has remarried. What’s more, she doesn’t care for her new stepbrother, Sye (Carter Jenkins), who is obsessed with photographing things. During a trip to the Arcadia region of Greece, the family’s car goes off a cliff and into the ocean. Charlotte and Sye manage to escape from the car and swim to shore. There they meet Benerji (Nick Nolte), who spouts New Age gobbledegook and talks vaguely about finding a road. Benerji doesn’t seem very concerned when Charlotte and Sye tell him about what’s happened to their parents. For that matter, they don’t seem too terribly concerned themselves. For reasons that aren’t clear, they decide to follow Benerji around. During their wanderings, Charlotte meets an Australian hunk named Raffi (Lachlan Buchanan) and decides to go off with him. However, she soon realizes that he doesn’t really love her, so she goes back to Sye and Benerji. They then meet Gorgo (Dato Bakhtadze), a creepy guy who wears a monk’s outfit. At this point, Benerji, who doesn’t seem to care for Gorgo (who can blame him?) decides to take off by himself. Gorgo then tries to rape Charlotte, but Sye rescues her. After they escape from Gorgo, Sye announces to Charlotte that they must go to a place called Parnonas, but he doesn’t really explain why. He doesn’t know how to get to Parnonas, but he knows that they will find a way. They then wander around Greece for a while, until they finally arrive at Parnonas, where they immerse themselves in a lake. The film’s ending is ambiguous: it seems to suggest that it was all a dream, but then again, maybe it wasn’t.

This film is clearly symbolic. Benerji represents spirituality, while Gorgo represents materialism. Charlotte and Sye represent the innocence and restlessness of youth. The film is beautifully shot, with lots of gorgeous views of the Greek countryside. The characters undergo growth in the course of the film. Sye becomes less of a geek, and Charlotte becomes more thoughtful and serious. Still, I found it hard to care about them, since it was often unclear what their motives were. What’s more, they seemed strangely blasé about their parents’ deaths. And I found Benerji just annoying. Overall, this film doesn’t seem to accomplish its goal – whatever that is.

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