Small Crime (Mikro Eglima)
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After months of cold, cloudy days, most of us in the chilly states are dying to get away for a while—somewhere warm and sunny (preferably with a nice beach—and a waiter to deliver drinks). But if you can’t afford plane tickets and hotel rooms, I recommend taking a more affordable trip to the islands of Greece—with the help of the Greek comic mystery, Small Crime.

Leonidas (Aris Servetalis) dreams of making a difference as a big city cop in Athens—but it’s probably best that he’s been assigned to a quiet little island town, where there’s very little crime. Even here, he can’t seem to keep order. People work without permits and sunbathe naked—and nothing he does can stop them.

When a local boy discovers the body of former soccer star Zacharias (Antonis Katsaris) on the island’s rocky cliffs, everyone assumes that his death was an accident—except for Leonidas. He’s determined to solve the mystery, bring the killer to justice, and earn a new job in Athens.

As he investigates the mysterious death, Leonidas chats with the eccentric residents of the town—most of whom seem to have their own explanations (which then play out on-screen in amusing reenactments). When he sees the island’s favorite daughter—morning TV hostess Aggeliki (Vicky Papadopoulou)—snooping around the dead man’s house, he wonders how she might have been involved. And when he approaches her, he begins to uncover some island secrets that may lead him to the answers he’s been looking for.

Small Crime is the cinematic equivalent of the cozy mystery novel. It’s light and entertaining, with a little bit of romance to spice things up and a little bit of mystery to keep audiences guessing. It even throws in a touch of Greek culture—and plenty of traditional Greek music. The story moves along at an easy-going pace, fitting perfectly with the laid-back pace of the quaint island town where it takes place—which, itself, is an important part of the film.

Like author M. C. Beaton’s Scottish village of Lochdubh—or even Janet Evanovich’s Trenton, New Jersey—the Greek seaside town in Small Crime gives the film its irresistible charm and its quirky character. Not only does it provide a gorgeous setting (complete with the crisp blues and whites that are typical in all things Greek), but it also gives the townspeople their unusual personalities. Isolated from the mainland (which they can reach by ferry, if they so desire), they’re either perfectly content to live apart or desperate to leave the island and make something of their lives. There are busybodies and conspiracy theorists, laid-back teachers and lazy businessmen—all of whom have their own strange (and often hilarious) ways of doing things.

Although Leonidas is technically an outsider, he fits right in with the rest of the eccentric characters in town. He’s an ambitious screw-up—a lovable loser—yet he’s not so much of a loser (or a screw-up) that he’s too ridiculous. He’ll certainly make you laugh, but you’ll fall in love with him, too.

If you get a chance to see this lovable Greek comic-romantic-mystery—whether at a film festival (like the Cleveland International Film Festival) or on video—don’t miss it. It’s as warm and relaxing as an Aegean breeze.

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