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Teen road trip in Greek 'Xenia' wanders down odd paths

At the beginning of "Xenia," the new Greek road-trip feature from director and co-writer Panos H. Koutras, 15-year-old Dany interrupts the sexual overtures of an older man to care for his bunny and to ask for a cash advance for the trip from Crete to Athens.

Upon his arrival in Athens, Dany (Kostas Nikouli) informs his 17-year-old brother, Ody (Nikos Gelia), that their Albanian immigrant mother has died.

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The siblings decide to journey to Thessaloniki. There they will hit up their estranged father, whom they call the Unspeakable, to seek long-overdue child support and legal status to prevent deportation. Ody also will honor their mother's dying wish by answering a cattle call for the TV talent competition "Greek Star" and covering a tune by beloved Italian diva Patty Pravo.

Dany, meanwhile, perpetually sports a skimpy tank top, ripped shorts, a studded choker and a girlish asymmetrical long blond side bang, making him a target for xenophobes and homophobes alike. A walking contradiction of childish and melodramatic impulses, he packs his duffel bag with a handgun and his bunny Dido.

The film feels gratuitous and exploitative at times as it skirts dangerously close to child sex and incest. Koutras admirably resists easy wish fulfillment by making the brothers' journey more important than their destination, but the scenario he presents inexplicably turns out to be fantasy.

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"Xenia"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes.

Playing: Sundance Sunset, Los Angeles.

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