What You Need To Know:
SIGNS AND WONDERS is a depressing, mediocre European movie. It is pretentious while being inept. The actors have done better, so the failure is in the direction. The dialogue is weak, and the suspense is heavy handed. The intense moments are overshadowed by the general mediocrity. SIGNS AND WONDERS may become a darling of the left, but the viewer has to be really ignorant of history to think that the member of the Stalinist wing of the Communist Party in Greece was a good guy. If you have any confusion on this point, rent the movie ELENI, which shows exactly what the Communists wrought as they attempted to conquer Greece right after WWII
(APAPAP, CoCo, HH, OO, LL, VV, SSS, NNN, A, D, M) Anti-American, Marxist, Humanist worldview, seemingly mocking the supernatural, with occult references; 9 obscenities, 5 profanities; man bites into glass & blood rushes from his mouth, explosion in apartment, man falls from roof but survives, man falls off cliff, pre-abortion preparation that is very vivid & intense; depicted fornication & discussion of fornication, adultery, sexual fantasies; full, prolonged upper female nudity & partial male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, lying, cheating & deception.
SIGNS AND WONDERS starts off being a midlife crisis movie, but quickly transitions into an anti-“Ugly American” diatribe. Undermining the effectiveness and credibility of this diatribe is the poor representation of the American characters. Like DANCER IN THE DARK, this movie doesn’t even try to represent Americans or America accurately.
Played by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard, Alec is an American diplomat born in Stockholm who is now stationed in Athens. He seems to have the perfect family, but evidently wants more. So he starts having an affair with a low-level diplomatic officer named Katherine. When he tells his wife Marjorie (Charlotte Rampling) about the affair, she seems to take it very well. However, when they go skiing a few months later, he sees Katherine and runs away with her to the United States.
Alec has the bad habit of seeing everything as a sign. The movie misuses the biblical notion of signs and wonders to mock his propensity for egocentric cosmic significance. His daughter is caught up in this perspective. His son dismisses it and has become part of the Greek culture.
When Katherine tells Alec that she engineered their meeting on the ski slopes, he is deeply shocked and upset and goes back to Greece to reconcile with Marjorie. Marjorie, however, wants nothing to do with Alec and is having an affair with Andreas, a Greek Communist who is a member of the Stalinist wing and a resistance fighter. Andreas spoke up at an American diplomatic function to explain how America supported the dictators who persecuted him and his fellow Communists.
Alec tries to insinuate himself back into Marjorie’s life. Clearly, he is the “Ugly American.” He is also confused and extremely selfish.
Regrettably, his daughter has fallen for his superstitious musings. She ends up bombing Andreas’ apartment, an act for which her father gets thrown in jail. She also drives Andreas to his death.
SIGNS AND WONDERS is a depressing, mediocre European movie…the type of movie that makes so many film festival screenings so unpleasant. It is pretentious while being inept. Even though some of the actors are American, all the American characters seem like Europeans pretending to be Americans. The dialogue is weak, and the suspense is heavy handed.
There are moments that are very intense, but these moments are overshadowed by the general mediocrity. The actors have all done better. So, the failure is in the direction.
It is regrettable that Charlotte Rampling at her age agreed to doing a nude fornication scene. Up to that point, she was the only believable character.
SIGNS AND WONDERS, like THE LEGEND OF RITA, will become a darling of the left, but the fact of the matter is that the viewer has to be really ignorant of history to think that the member of the Stalinist wing of the Communist Party in Greece was a good guy. If you or anyone you know has any confusion on this point, rent the movie ELENI, one of the great movies of all time, which shows exactly what the Communists wrought as they attempted to conquer Greece right after WWII.