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A computer programmer who, after his train breaks down, takes to wandering aimlessly through remote regions of La Pampa, Viedma and Carhue. he meets a succession of equally lost souls, including a globe-trotting gambler, a circus owner whose performers left him "because the whole country was a circus: and a tarot card reader with large gaps in her knowledge of the future. Written by
Jim Wade <email@example.com>
"A Shadow You Soon Will Be" (1994) is based on the Osvaldo Soriano novel "Shadows" (1993), a playfully dark allegory of a man wandering through the wastelands & small towns of Argentina not quite knowing where he's going or how to get there. In his wandering, circular travels he encounters other bizarre individuals similarly wandering in circles.
That's all I'll say about the plot & meaning, because a spoiler would ruin the fun of figuring out what the allegory is about (beware of one of the other reviews which spoils it up front).
The film does a great job of bringing the mood to the screen. It is dreamlike without going into total fantasy territory, bizarre while keeping one foot firmly planted in reality. Not quite as surreal as Terry Gilliam ("Brazil") or Tim Burton ("Big Fish", "Peewee's Big Adventure"), the tone reminded me of the Russian scifi road epic "Kin-Dza-Dza" or the Buñuel classic "Exterminating Angel" both of which center around a normal protagonist immersed in an abnormal world, bound by strange rules that are never explained and never questioned.
The special effects are minimal, so don't expect Walt Disney's latest "Alice in Wonderland", but this is very much a Wonderlandian story, full of oddball characters and seemingly nonsensical circumstances which actually have meaning if you dig deep. My favorite character is the jolly ex-circus owner who drives around in circles scamming free gas and occasionally playing card games where he bets his memories. Another interesting oddball is the stoic millionaire obsessed with beating the casino even though he obviously has more than enough money for a dozen lifetimes.
And although I said there are no flashy special effects, that doesn't mean there aren't tremendous visuals. The opening scene of a broken down, abandoned train in the middle of the desert (which our hero steps off) is masterfully shot. As well, the deep landscapes of desolation are absolutely majestic (I do wish they would remaster this in HD one day). With respect to landscapes it reminded me of the 2001 film "Piedras Verdes" ("Green Stones") about a girl wandering through the desert trying to find life's answers. Or maybe the 2nd half of Wim Wender's excellent "Until the End of the World" (1991) about a group of colorful characters living in the Australian desert after an apocalyptic event.
If you like slow-paced & challenging, yet fun, movies that warp your grasp of reality, give "A Shadow You Soon Will Be" a go. Watch the film, try to figure out the allegory being presented to you, and then read the other review with the spoilers explaining things (or better yet, read the book).
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