THE CICADAS

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VANGELIS RAPTOPOULOS

They're the gang that can't shoot straight: tough-guy wannabes straight out of a Greek-subtitled version of Thieves Like Us, downmarket motorcycle punks (no Hell's angels these), dead-end kids from the urban depths with foulmouthed girlfriends and parents as remote as prosperity. Innocents with attitude.

Stamatis, the bumbling ringleader, his faithful side-kick Takoulis, and Fotis, a self-styled strong, silent type who falls for a horny journalist, form a threesome with no past, no future, and a present as insouciant and short-lived as a cicada. Armed with little more than an empty shotgun and plenty of bravado, the three blow their big chance: a hold-up at a district tax office.

Their Technicolor dream comes unraveled on a furious motorcycle ride north, in a comic brawl on a deserted beach, and in the final ignominy of capture under the flashing lights of a provincial disco.

Life, suggests The Cicadas, is as tough, nasty and indifferent as a B thriller. Vangelis Raptopoulos' characters, sketched with sure-handed empathy, with a knife-edged ear for the hard humor of the street, throb with the fervid intensity of cicadas buzzing in the noonday heat. Nothing in their voice intimated how soon they will die.