The Trip to Greece
Director(s): Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan, Kareem Alkabbani, Marta Barrio, Rebecca Johnson, Claire Keelan, Cordelia Bugeja, Richard Clews and Timothy Leach
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)May 22, 2020 - VOD
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The Trip to Greece ends Michael Winterbottom’s quadrilogy of dinner-and-a-destination films with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Once again, the pair play embellished versions of themselves with fine dining and breathtaking scenery acting as a backdrop to the conversations of two funnymen and friends. Whereas Homer’s Odyssey took ten years, the pair are expected to make the same journey in six days for a project.
Coogan, fresh off his award-nominated performance as Stan Laurel in Stan & Ollie, tries to be the highbrow philosopher of the two, trying to show up and educate Brydon with his knowledge of Greek history and culture, and positioning himself as a serious actor. Brydon is the court jester, trying to deflate Coogan’s ego, mocking his accomplishments, and singing the theme song to Grease just because they’re in Greece. Though Coogan has his serious airs, his competitive spirit cannot be held back and he and Brydon often find their dinners evolving into dueling impersonations as they move from famous voice to famous voice with ease. It’s not just a lounge act though, as through these voices the pair still manage to get deep about life, love and fame.
The Brydon character that Brydon is playing is much more at ease in his life than Coogan is. Coogan has family drama unfolding as he tours Greece for work and his dreams haunt him. As he struggles to decide who he is professionally and seeking changes in his career, he appears to be doing that personally as well.
Like the three films before, the theatrical release of The Trip to Greece is an edited down version of a British TV series. The series takes place over three hours and six episodes while the version we’re seeing here in North America is a hair under two hours. I’m sure that missing hour fleshes out not just the personal stories, but even the details of the places of antiquity that they’re journeying through. Like a sentence missed during a dinner table conversation, you’ll sometimes find yourself thinking you’ve missed a point or lost the thread. What’s there in the edited version draws you in though, so instead of shrugging it off, you just want to seek out the series and get the full experience.
Winterbottom and his cinematography team make the food and the landscape just as intriguing as the two friends. Greece looks gorgeous and as this is being released during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the beautiful clear waters and rugged hills in the film act as a welcome virtual destination to those who can’t travel. We’re breaking bread with Coogan and Brydon in a time where we’re restricted to takeout and delivery.
Though he has succulent meals and painfully beautiful scenery to work with, Winterbottom knows the strength of the movie is the interactions and quick-witted banter between the two performers. He lets the camera just sit back and enjoy the show without any distractions. Winterbottom, Coogan and Brydon may say this is the last supper, but I’m sure we’ll be asking them to go back out for a late dessert in a few years.
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