By coincidence, both Germany and Greece entered films about two sisters in love with the same man. And in both films their mother forces one of the sisters to marry a rich man she isn’t attracted to because the mother wants to achieve financial security for the family. The German film, Beloved Sisters, has received most of the attention, partly because it is inspired by the true story of poet-playwright Friedrich Schiller and his relationship with the Lengefeld sisters, one of whom he married and one of whom wrote the first biography of Schiller.
However it is the Greek film, Little England, which I found more interesting. It’s based on a novel, The Jasmine Isle, by Ioanna Karystiani and directed by her husband, Pantelis Voulgaris.
Older sister Orsa is in love with sailor Spyros and he with her. Before he goes off to sea, which almost all men in this community on the island of Andros do, they secretly pledge to marry one day. But Orsa’s mother, Mina, considers Spyros to be a bad catch because he is only a second mate with no prospects of becoming a captain. So she bullies Orsa into marrying a real captain: handsome, wealthy, nice-enough but uninteresting Nikos. When Spyros returns home, it turns out that he has been made a captain and will be in charge of his own ship. So Mina arranges for him to marry Orsa’s younger sister, vivacious Moscha. The catch is that Moscha has no idea that Orsa and Spyros were in love and had pledged marriage. When you see the way Orsa and Spyros still look at each other, you know that time has not diluted their old attraction.
Mina makes the situation even worse for Orsa by installing the two couples in a duplex so that Orsa has to repeatedly listen to her sister enjoying sex with the man she loves.
The title refers to the nickname for Andros as a result of its ties to and admiration for the English shipping industry.