IMDB Link: Not to Be Unpleasant, But We Need to Have a Serious Talk (2019)
Director: Girogos Georgopoulos
Writers: Maria Fakinou, Giorgos Georgopoulos
Stars: Omiros Poulakis, Vangelis Mourikis, Kora Karvouni
Synopsis: Womaniser Aris (Poulakis) finds out he is a carrier of a sexually transmitted virus, lethal only for women. But he is also the only hope for a curing vaccine if he finds which one of his ex girlfriends had the first viral strain.
I would like to begin this review by commenting on the subject matter of the story. I thank the writers and director, Maria Fakinou and Giorgos Georgopoulos, for being willing to tell a story about STDs and how they can be passed on easily, as well as the awkward but necessary conversation that needs to be done about protection. Whilst I am not sure if the female perspective is executed perfectly here – which I will go on to discuss throughout the film – I admire that it was a writing duo consisting of a female and male working on the script and narrative of this film, as it is a conversation that is needed from both sides.
It is not only the storyline of STDs that this film has that is bold in narrative, but the character of Aris’ boss, Poet (played by Vangelis Mourikis). Poet does not have a voice box, having to use a portable synthesiser to speak throughout the film. Whilst this is jarring to begin, it is refreshing to see this used in a way that feels normal for the characters around them, not simply for horror or humour. It is the bold decisions like this that I enjoy in the film.
The performances across the board are solid, from the leading role to the supporting cast. Omiros Poulakis gives a performance that does feel reserved and held back, but surprisingly works. This story usually lends itself to be over-dramatised, with tears and tantrums worthy of being in an Oscar montage. Not with this film, and the tone taken here fits the more reserved screenplay and performances given to surprisingly feel more human and natural. It goes for the route of quiet and shocking, rather than loud and dramatic, and it was the right way to go.
This film does have a major issue though, and that has to do with the pacing. This film can get incredibly boring and lengthy at times, and that is because of the lack of a sub-plot. This film does want to have side stories, particularly focusing on Aris’ job, but I never cared about that part of the story. It takes roughly 15-20 minutes to get to the main plot of the film, and yet it breaks away from it so often. The best sequences are when they focus on the main story, the conversations that Aris has with the women he has had sex with, and their perspective on it. These sequences are not the focus though, and it slows the film down when it does break away from this.
I am also not sure if the subject matter is handled completely well from the female perspective. There are some great lines of dialogue in the film, talking about who’s responsibility it is to provide protection when initiating intercourse and why he went through a specific order to speak to the women. However, a lot of the focus on the story is how Aris feels about having this virus. This would have more impact if the virus impacted his way of living, but it doesn’t physically affect him. It does affect the women, however, and their voice simply isn’t loud enough here. Some of the interactions, such as the one that takes place in a car, just felt out of touch and badly handled and I wish the women had a louder voice in this film. The purpose shouldn’t be to find the girl who could help bring on the cure, it should be how they feel about what happened to lead to this moment.
Whilst there are aspect that I admire about this film, and I want more filmmakers to be open and honest about talking about subjects such as sexually-transmitted viruses, I cannot say that I fully enjoyed watching Not to Be Unpleasant, But We Need to Have a Serious Talk. There are aspects that could have been tightened up to fully highlight the situation, and I could have done without the sub-plot and perhaps making this a 30-40 minute short instead. I would still ask people to watch it though, and see what their opinions are on how it handled the subject matter. There needs to be more conversation on subjects like this.