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Romantic drama 'Worlds Apart' spins three satisfying love stories set in Greece

Romantic drama 'Worlds Apart' spins three satisfying love stories set in Greece
Christopher Papakaliatis and Andrea Osvart in the film "Worlds Apart." (Cinema Libre Studio)

Three romantic tales set in present-day Greece intersect in a surprising and satisfying way in writer-director-actor Christopher Papakaliatis' masterful drama, "Worlds Apart." It's an often tender, affecting film that slowly creeps up on you — then completely takes hold.

First up is the story of Daphne (Niki Vakali), a college student who falls for Syrian refugee Farris (Tawfeek Barhom) as a wave of nationalist sentiment, fueled largely by Greece's economic downturn, explodes around them. Meanwhile, a failed and bitter businessman (Minas Hatzisavvas) joins up with an anti-immigrant extremist group to tragic effect.

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The next narrative finds unhappily married sales manager Giorgios (Papakaliatis) diving into an affair with Elise (Andrea Osvárt), a visiting Swedish corporate exec tasked with downsizing Giorgios' company. Steamy times — and thorny complications — ensue.

The third native-outsider pairing involves retired German émigré Sebastian (an excellent J.K. Simmons), who enjoys a kind of "Same Time, Next Week" relationship with Maria (Maria Kavoyianni), a wistful Greek housewife beset by financial hardship and marital discord. Theirs proves a lovely match that, as in the other stories, will face a life-altering challenge.

Papakaliatis deftly balances the film's resonant segments emotionally, culturally and politically. The result is a highly credible look at the enduring power of eros in a world beset by inexorable change. Charming use of Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen" as well.

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'Worlds Apart'

In English and Greek with English subtitles

Not rated.

Running time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Playing: ArcLight Cinemas, Hollywood.

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