‘It’s easy for someone to turn into a jerk,’ the heroine’s father wisely observes. ‘To just stand aside, watching.’ The gulf between passive acceptance and active resistance is at the heart of Standing Aside, Watching, a compelling thriller from Greek director Yorgos Servetas.

When Antigone (played with steely determination by Marina Symeou), returns home after years in Athens, she finds her small coastal town, and the townsfolk themselves, in an advanced state of moral decay. Undaunted, Antigone sets about making the best. She gets a job in the local school and rekindles her friendship with fellow teacher Eleni. She dates Nikos, a handsome and naïve local youth, and even adopts a stray dog. But, like her mythological namesake, Antigone is a strong-willed heroine who takes exception to the status quo, and it’s not long before the activities of a local thug compel her to speak out, with dire consequences for everyone involved.

Shot with taut economy and a poetic eye, Yorgos Servetas’ second feature is at once a thriller filled with simmering tension, a coruscating portrait of small-town corruption and a penetrating study of the corrosive effects of poverty on the soul of Greece.

Alistair Daniel
Jameson Dublin International Film Festival