In Greek drama The Enemy Within, the liberal principles of middle class father Kostas (Manolis Mavromatakis) are put to the test when his home is invaded and his teenage daughter raped. From here, the film turns a critical eye to vigilante justice as Kostas wrestles with an ego-driven desire to unleash bloody vengeance on his family’s attackers.
Speaking to FilmDoo, director Yorgos Tsemberopoulos offers his take on this measured and morally conscious work.
This was your first feature film since 2000’s Backdoor. What made you decide to return to feature-directing after such a long period?
I never thought I quit – my usual pace is a feature every 8-10 years. I was prepping another feature which was very expensive and it folded when the crisis burst into our reality here.
In some ways, do you regard The Enemy Within as a reflection of the political climate in Greece, and perhaps Europe in general?
Like all my films, The Enemy Within is a character-driven social drama influenced by what’s happening in the period it is set. Above all, it deals with whether morally conscious people can stick to their principles in the very difficult times we live in. I am pleased though, when I read or hear that the film also works as a parable for the new threats we experience in Europe.
Was it important to you that the audience doesn’t take too much visceral pleasure in the film’s scenes of vengeance and vigilante justice?
Following the main character so closely, we get to know him and we are not at all sure if he’s going to fire that shot or not. In my discussions with audiences in many countries, it was interesting to see that most people really root for him and wish that he does it. As human beings, we carry both our intellect and our instincts, and the battle can be fierce.
What do you feel Kostas’ actions say about the psychology of his character?
This 48 year old father has toiled to raise his family and his small business in an ethical way, always progressing but never at the expense of others, always trying to be consistent with his whole set of values. When he sees his life being shattered by the intruders, he realizes that “we don’t know who we really are”.
Are you involved in any new projects at the moment?
Yes. I am in the final stages of a screenplay titled ΩMEGA, working with the same writer, heading for the worst part of filmmaking which is called financing…