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.
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.
In English and Greek with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Playing: ArcLight Cinemas, Hollywood.