“A man is a poet if difficulties inherent in his art provide him with ideas; he is not a poet if they deprive him of ideas.”—Paul Valéry
A pickpocket falls in love with a pianist who leads her on a chase through Athens, with the police right behind them.
In the past, when shooting in Athens, or writing scripts about Athens, I have been careful not to emphasize the locale, so as to avoid a clichéd treatment. Here, though, Athens is a character, a labyrinth, because this is a chase movie—not a wild broad chase movie like Louis Malle’s Zazie dans le métro, but a chase that gets us around the city, and through some of its most beautiful and picturesque areas. (If you’ve forgotten what Zazie looks like there are a few minutes of it here.)
Jacques Rivette’s short film Paris s'en va gives an idea of what I’m aiming at, with the help of Athens, though Pas de deux has a plot. I’m not claiming to be Malle or Rivette, but I think we can do something fun and saleable on a minimal sum—sort of a nano-budget Grande Belleza.
Sexy puckish pickpocket Becky (Despina Mirou, whose show reel is here) is teasing a wallet out of a purse on a crowded Athens metro when she notices beautiful callow Miranda (Fiona Georgiadi, whose reel is here) and falls in love. Miranda escapes her, Becky escapes the purse-owner, and the chase is on—past the MuchaTrella Jazz Band playing our theme song Sweet Sue.
Oops, Becky picks the pocket of a policeman on vacation, and he’s obsessed with catching her. “My name is Wesley Stankovitch, my pocket has just been picked and I have a photograph of the culprit! Now can I have some men over here!”
whose captain, Ero Lefa, distrusts her, especially when she gets pregnant on the job.
So is Miranda’s music professor Steven Lever, reel (14:58), who wants to marry her,
A dream for the psychiatrist: Miranda sits high up at the crest of the otherwise empty Panathinaiko Stadium. In the distance Becky enters from the street and comes to the near end of the field. “I love you!” she calls. Miranda is impassive. The cops rush in toward them and Becky has to scramble up through the seats and disappear into the trees.
In an open-air cinema Becky tries to hold Miranda's hand. She jerks it away. Becky puts her arm around her and she gets up and changes seats. Becky follows, and from up high we watch as Miranda changes seats, Becky follows, Miranda changes seats, Becky follows.
Becky arranges a dinner for four to introduce Katerina to Mihail. Katerina likes him. Triumph for Becky. She looks across the table at Miranda, but Miranda is gone. Becky chases her out into the night.
Passion, young love, Athens, the police, a chase, a death, a comedy—for pocket change. We shall create the legend of the nano-budget romantic comedy.
The first scene is based on the opening of the masterful Samuel Fuller’s Pickup On South Street (I’m not Fuller either), specifically the hand in the purse. You might like this whole movie—every shot is a poem.
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