New Releases: Entwined (2020) - Reviewed

For centuries now, forests have served as a metaphor for the unknown.  From the Brothers Grimm to Tolkien, classic literature dictates when protagonists venture into a dark, wooded area, it is usually a harrowing experience—often encountering frightening adversaries along the way—but it is an adventure that often leads to lessons and self-discovery in the end.  

In analytical psychology, forests also represent mysterious femininity in the eyes of young men headed toward manhood.  In the Greek fantasy film Entwined, we see a perfect example of a forest’s unknown terrain being represented in a feminine yet frightening manner, putting the main character through an ordeal that is both enlightening and punishing.

In this film where modernity meets classicism, Panos (Prometheus Aleiferopoulos) is a doctor accustomed to the comforts of big city living, but when his father dies, he decides he wants a change of pace.  He moves to the small village Aylti in order to help its largely elderly population, discovering he is the first doctor in this town.  During his stay there, he becomes infatuated with the beautiful but sheltered Danae (Anastasia-Rafaela Konidi), who lives in the woods with a strange skin condition he’s determined to cure.  The more he visits her, the more he realizes something otherworldly is afoot, becoming ensnared by this woman’s enchantments the more he is around her.  

Entwined is a dark fairy tale that keeps the narrative simple and establishes ambiance effortlessly.  Basking in an earth-toned color palette with shots that provoke curiosity, it’s easy to embrace the fantasy of this story while still feeling grounded.  We have all heard fabled stories of hermit-like characters in nature having mystical powers, but this film has a way of building upon that familiar tale and creating its own mythos, all the while presenting it in a world that feels highly tangible.

This film would not have been as effective were it not for its small cast further rooting this fantastical story into a believable reality.  Prometheus Aleiferopoulos plays Panos as equal parts worldly and vulnerable—strong headed in his views, but easily succumbing to powers he doesn’t understand.  Anastasia-Rafaela Konidi is nuanced with her portrayal of Danae: menacing at times, yet also somewhat naive and sympathetic.  Combined, they display a power struggle between a masculine-dominated modern world and a more feminine, ancient energy that rules over nature and is shrouded in mystery.

Director Minos Nikolakakis shines in his feature debut, creating a love story between these two figures that is beautifully, hauntingly tragic.  He depicts nature as having a life of its own, and he understands when the unspoken carries more weight than a pandering dialogue exchange, which is especially powerful in a film so rooted in the unknown.  He does not answer every question for us, nor does he need to.  Subtle gestures and images tell the viewer enough to keep the magic alive.

At one point in the film, Panos’s brother says to him, “science doesn’t have all the answers, as much as you might want it to.”  This is the lesson Panos learns while he is in the forest, and it’s one that comes with consequences.  Entwined invites the audience to brave the unknown, think outside the realms of possibility, and get lost in nature for a bit, much like Panos does in this film.  

--Andrea Riley