The Movie Waffler New Release Review [DVD/VOD] - THE MAN WITH THE ANSWERS | The Movie Waffler


The Man with the Answers review
Following his grandmother's death, a young man takes off on a road trip across Europe.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Stelios Kammitsis

Starring: Vasilis Magouliotis, Anton Weil, Stella Fryogeni

The Man with the Answers poster

It’s a tale as old as modern cinema: disenfranchised and lonely male goes on a journey of self-discovery and along the way meets someone who turns his tiny world upside down, invigorating him towards self-actualisation and a reassuringly happy ending. Cameron Crowe is the auteur of this sort of fare, with the heteronormative tediums of Almost Famous or Elizabethtown typifying this sort of feckless bloke meets hot yet scatty woman who emboldens all of his qualities, a vampiric dynamic which has somehow been reframed as both romantic and comedic.

However, the implied misogyny of the manic pixie dream girl narrative is somewhat challenged in Stelios Kammitsis’ feature length debut The Man with the Answers, as here the leads are both male, sidestepping the gender archetypes which characterise the base genre. Could The Man with the Answers’ subversion extend further than swapping out sexualities?

The Man with the Answers review

Our hapless protagonist is pretty Greek lad Victoras (Vasilis Magouliotis). Victoras’ professional high diving career is now over, and he ekes out his days working in a low paying job in between visiting his hospitalised grandmother. You know that Nana Victoras’ battery has been hovering at 1% for some time now, as on the communal ward where she is situated the strip lighting flickers ominously. Subtle it ain’t, but this prologue does at least communicate recognisable feeling and generate sympathy for Victoras, however ersatz the emotion may be.

And that’s not all that Kammitsis generates in these opening scenes... Talk about the male gaze! The lascivious manner in which Thodoros Mihopoulos’ camera is all over Magouliotis makes Micheal Bay filming Megan Fox seem positively chaste. We see his tanned torso flex as he gratuitously walks across his apartment, and then he walks across it on his hands too: all angles catered for and lingered over. We are set up for some full-on homoerotic escapism.

The Man with the Answers review

Bored of apartment acrobatics, Victoras decides to drive across Europe to visit his estranged mother. Along the way, he picks up mercurial pogi dream guy Mathias (Anton Weil); tall, dark and daddy. The weirdly kleptomaniac Mathias (he steals sandwiches and bags of crisps from garages along the way - what a free spirit!) picks up Victoras in a different sense of the word though, flirtatiously teasing and taunting him towards his full potential.

This goes on for some time; a passive aggressive dynamic which you would think may, within the glossy fantasy of visual narrative, innately turn into sex. But it doesn’t! Even though we see a couple of bare arses when the chaps go off road for a spontaneous swim in a picturesque lake (encouraged by Mathias, who seems to have memorised Lonely Planet’s Prettiest Cottaging Sites Across Europe), it takes ages for the inevitable to happen. In fact, sat there for so long waiting for these two alamos to shag, I began to actually wonder if I had read the signals all wrong and this wasn’t a prospective gay daydream, but an especially tasteful looking buddy movie (which perhaps says more about my cultural conditioning than the film...).

The Man with the Answers review

Don’t fret though, the Poole gaydar never fails. And soon, I was wondering instead if, in fact, we were subject to a Fight Club (that homoerotic masterpiece) situation where Mathias is a figment of Victoras’ needy imagination/libido. But perhaps that is projecting an intriguing element onto this otherwise pretty but pedestrian flick. In Pride month especially, we’re all for gay cinema which appropriates hegemonic tropes and narratives, but it’s a shame that The Man with the Answers is as authentically wet and predictable as its hetero-orientated forebearers.

The Man with the Answers is on UK DVD and Peccadillo On Demand from June 28th, with a general VOD release on July 5th.

2021 movie reviews