26 December 2011

Driving Aphrodite [US title: My Life in Ruins] (starring Nia Vardalos, Alexis Georgoulis and Richard Dreyfuss)


Sometimes I browse through Amazon, and check reviews for the various DVDs that it recommends to me, based on what I've already rated. It seems to have gathered that I generally enjoy light romantic comedies; it will also frequently suggest films starring actors or actresses whose films I have previously enjoyed.

So, a few months ago, I put 'Driving Aphrodite' on my wishlist; apparently the title of this movie is 'My life in ruins', in America. The star is Nia Vardalos, who became well-known for 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' about ten years ago. An added draw was that it also features Richard Dreyfuss, star of what is possibly my all-time favourite film, 'Mr Holland's Opus'.

I was pleased to be given this DVD for Christmas, and at the end of a busy day we decided to sit down and watch it, hoping for something light and undemanding.

We were not disappointed. While it doesn't have the brilliant one-liners and satire of 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding', this is a likeable film, with some humour that we appreciated all the more having lived in a Greek culture for the past fourteen years.

Georgia (Nia Vardalos) is an American tour guide. She doesn't really want to be; she came to Athens to lecture in Ancient history, but that didn't work out. Unfortunately her style is to try and teach holidaymakers about the history of all the ruins and artefacts visited on their coach tours around the city. But most of them are not particularly interested...

Georgia's co-worker (Alistair McGowan) would like to see her fired, so he and the boss arrange for her to have a difficult and motley crew in her coach, with non-working air-conditioning and a boorish driver (Alexis Georgoulis). The first day goes badly and she decides to quit; but an irritating elderly 'wise guy' on her bus (Richard Dreyfuss)turns out to be a fount of good advice, with match-making skills too..

It took a little while to get into this; in the earlier part of the film, the generalisations were a bit too obvious, and we wondered if it was going to be even slightly amusing... but as it progressed, we started to like the people concerned, and there were some quite funny moments alongside some deeper, more moving scenes.


All in all, we enjoyed it. Particularly recommended to anyone who has lived in Greece, Cyprus, or any of the Greek islands, and so is familiar with the culture that is somewhat satirised in this film.

Rated 12 in the UK (PG-13 in the USA), presumably because of one or two instances of bad language, and some mild sexual references.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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