It doesn't take much to get something into a New York theater for a week or two these days, but movies like Blackmail Boy make it easy to marvel at the power of any gay-themed entertainment to find an eager distributor. Blackmail Boy isn't an awful film per se, but any market that inspires buyers to troll international film festivals for a mediocre Greek soap opera with mild explicitness must be considered extremely well-served. The pennies it cost to put it out there must find enough dollars in theaters and home video to justify the bother, but only so much excitement can be drummed up by a sub-Pedro Almodóvar black comedy that will at best inspire mild amusement. Is a few seconds' glimpse of a lean, dark-skinned Greek bad boy really worth all the trouble?
The bad boy in question is Yannis Tsimitselis, a free-spirited, narcissistic 18-year-old bisexual who doesn't have particularly discriminating taste in sexual relationships, so long as his partners cling to him like a crack pipe. Tsimitselis appears briefly with a schoolgirl his age, but he mostly divides his time between two desperate middle-aged schlubs: Drug-addicted single mother Maria Kavoyianni and balding Mr. Burns look-alike Alexis Georgoulis, a married bureaucrat with ties to city hall. Years after an auto accident killed her daughter and left her husband in a Weekend At Bernie's-like state in the family's cramped apartment, Tsimitselis' mother (Nena Menti) is holding on tight to the old pie-making business and a valuable plot of land. When Tsimitselis' devious brother-in-law (Akylas Karazisis) discovers that the city wants to incorporate that land into a new park, he sets out to blackmail Georgoulis by threatening to pull the lid off his illicit gay affair.
There's some fun to be had in watching a scheme this complicated work itself out, and if writer-director team Thanasis Papathanasiou and Michalis Reppas have a talent for anything, it's for the sort of labyrinthine plotting found on a soap opera. Some elements are frankly hard to believe, like the humiliating sexual relationship the essentially good-hearted Menti has with her cretinous son-in-law, but in a potboiler like this, it's not a bad idea to keep stirring the broth. But at the center of the movie, Tsimitselis makes for a disappointing blank, a pretty poster boy who leaves a long trail of emotional wreckage in his wake. His body is the only compelling thing about him, which may explain why Blackmail Boy has made its long journey overseas.