A Melodramatic and Romantic Film
Two Greek sisters fall for the same sturdy sea captain in “Little England” from Greek director Pantelis Voulgaris. Set in the first half of the twentieth century, on the island of Andros, where a community of women is left to look after themselves and each other while their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons are out at sea. From the first shot the presence of the surrounding water and the violence of the waves are stressed and suggest the perils of the sea and the safety of the land.
There’s a real sense of community that runs throughout the film, with the women collectively saying goodbye or welcoming back the ships that carry their men. The focus is on a triangle of Mina (Anneza Paladopoulou) who complains that while her husband may run his ship, she runs the house, and her two daughters, Orsa (Penelope Tsilika) who is 20 when the film opens, and Moscha (Sofia Kokkali), her younger sibling.
, Orsa is secretly in love with second mate, Spiros (Andreas Konstantinou), who promises to marry her the day he’ll come back as a captain. But for her mother marries her off Orsa to Nikos (Maximos Moumouris), also a captain but who’s as nice as he is plain.
When Orsa comes back from Athens, where she had to go for health reasons, she learns that Mina has successfully managed to marry off her younger sister to Spiros (her mother was aware of Orsa’s feelings for Spiros but Moscha wasn’t).
To make things even more painful, the dowry of both women is a shared house that Mina had constructed, with the first floor for Orsa and the second for Moscha. The result is sleepless nights for Orsa since she can hear all the nightly activity of her sister with the man she loves.
This is a film about emotional ups and downs with a lot of downs, especially for Orsa during the passage of times. As we move toward the end, the fascinating complexity of the film’s overall idea is pushed into the background as the main intrigue takes center stage.
Because all three women lived in the same house, we see the complicated emotions and painful relationships. The film uses the surrounding ocean waves as a theme about perils of the sea that are counterbalanced by the violent conflicts taking place on land. (There is a war as well).