Elpida (Stella Fyrogeni) is a middle-aged woman trapped in a loveless marriage who has just been diagnosed with the menopause. Her husband, Costas (Andreas Vasileiou) pays little attention to her and when he does it’s because she has done something that he thinks is wrong.
He ignores her requests to improve her life and whenever she goes away from him for too long, Costas tightens the grip on Elpida, making her feel alone, isolated and oppressed. Elpida’s mind is full of fantasies and that is how she copes with her situation, her fantasies are filled with passion, hope and sometimes disturbing thoughts. However, as the film goes on the audience start to question which of Elpida’s fantasies are real and which are not.
Pause is a Greek film that studies the mind of a lonely, repressed woman who feels that all hope is lost. Throughout the course of the film the audience watches alongside Elpida’s experiences as they start to sympathise with her and perhaps even wish that some of her fantasies were indeed real. Although not showing a typical example of domestic abuse, the film does give an account of a couple where the love has gone and Costas’ domineering nature rules over his wife.
Besides Elpida’s fantasies, her only respite from her husband is through her friend, Eleftheria (Popi Avraam) whose approach to life is somewhat different than Elpida’s and she helps her to have some fun from time to time. However, Elpida’s fantasies become all too much and as her fantasies start to become more frequent, the audience start to question her reality and indeed her sanity.
The film takes the audience through Elpida’s state of mind quite closely and the cast all do an excellent job to show exactly how close Elpida may be to cracking under the pressure. Fyrogeni puts in an excellent performance as the put-upon housewife who longs for something better and Vasileiou equally gives a strong performance as the cantankerous and supremely selfish Costas.
Through its slow and deliberate pacing, the film gradually increases Elpida’s fantasies and due to the clever direction and editing it builds up its audience only to knock them back down again. This not only gives the audience an idea of Elpida’s mindset but helps them understand just how she is feeling at any given moment. Other films try to give a more empowering and hopeful message to women like Elpida but Pause takes a different route, carefully guiding its audience down avenues they may have not been expecting, leaving them with more questions than answers by the end.
Ultimately though, this makes the film better because it is able to talk to a wider audience and not just those who could relate to her experiences so closely. Pause is not a comfortable watch but perhaps the way it lets the audience into Elpida’s mind it may make some more empathetic towards someone whose experiences may be so far removed from their own.
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