The Cinema of Verbal Abuse reaches new heights in "Soul Kicking," a two-hour rant-fest that's as punishing on the audience as it is on the characters. Second feature of Cyprus-born helmer Yannis Economidis makes his 2003 debut, "Matchbox," seem like a walk in the park. Ultimately the new film is way less rewarding also, as there's almost zero emotional undertow this time to justify the unremitting cussing. In Cannes' Critics Week, pic got a "very special screening," which is about as far as this one will travel.
The person whose soul is kicked the most is Takis (Errikos Litsis), one of life's born victims who toils in a small Athenian electrical workshop alongside gutter-mouthed colleagues. At home, Takis is nagged by his unfaithful, dipso wife, Irini (Maria Kehagioglou); at work, he's screamed at by his boss, Periklis (Vangelis Mourikis), who also has his goons physically humiliate the passive Takis. Comic aspect of the outrageous dialogue quickly wears off, and the only tension is when (or if) the worm will finally turn. Pic is carefully directed, with well-composed images, unobtrusive editing and largely fixed camera set-ups. But that hardly makes it more palatable, or bearable.
Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Dimitris Katsaitis; editor, Ioannis Halkiadakis; art director-costumes, Ioulia Stavridou. Reviewed at Thessaloniki Film Festival, Nov. 25, 2005. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics Week, special screening.) Running time: 113 MIN.