The unnamed man who is at the center of Makridis’s film is a lawyer. He is not just addicted to self-gloating, pity & crying but has reached a stage where he lies, manifests and create situations where people feel bad for him. In short, his happiness lies in being unhappy. Co-Written by Efthymis Filippou longtime collaborated of the Weird-Greek-New-Wave master Yargos Lanthimos, (The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, The Lobster, Dogtooth & Alps) we witness another pitch-black-comedy about the futile nature of being stuck in a self-manifested hell.
Fueled by tragic orchestral music which is eerily similar to Lanthimos’s choice, we open with a middle-aged man crying loudly on his bed. By the looks of it, he is deeply saddened by a tragedy that has hit his life. But that doesn’t take him off his supposedly new daily routine of standing in front of his house door waiting for his neighbor to bake and bring him a cake with a ton of genuine sympathy. It’s clear that he is not exactly interested in the cake but in the slight feeling of someone feeling sorry for him. His wife has been in a coma for some time and The Lawyer has sadly over-embraced the pity of people around him or even remotely connected to him.
When his wife gains back consciousness he is no more subjected to the occasional hug, a sad gesture, a morning cake, or a warm tap on the shoulder. He also somehow loses his inability to cry which makes him infuriated. He, in his own little head, has lost the one good thing that has come to him in years. Furious to an extent of lying and unable to fathom the hyper-real and tragic human condition, The Lawyer slowly starts slipping into a strange psychotic behavior, likes of which start from getting his clothes dirty just to gather a little sympathy from the dry cleaner as his existence faces a tragic emotional turmoil.
The film is submerged in a deader than deadpan kind of humor. One that can often be mistaken for a slightly unrealistic drama if it wasn’t for the occasionally surprising narrative elements. Babis Makridis’s stoic and silently hysterical anti-hero is constantly edgy. Which is why he makes the bold choice of showing his internal turmoil through written texts. The shot compositions are often a mixture of closely observed portrait shots with wide angled ones but Makridi’s aesthetics never match the mastery of his contemporaries like Lanthimos and the most recent Argyris Papadimitropoulos film Suntan.
Even when things get to the extremes in the third act, nothing really comes off as a surprise and shock which is worrying seeing how good the Greek comedian Yannis Drakopoulos is as the unnamed anti-hero. That being said, there are some sharp observations about the human condition and especially why deadpan comedies like this one are necessary (cue to a scene where The Lawyer explains how contemporary films have a lot of fake crying).
“Pity” sharply observes the human condition which is often stranger than fiction itself. Babis Makridis’s film is a fake Greek-tragedy that you never really knew you needed.