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When his long-lost brother resurfaces, Jacobo, desperate to prove his life has added up to something, looks to scrounge up a wife. He turns to Marta, an employee at his sock factory, with whom he has a prickly relationship. Written by
Following the more crowd-pleasing blockbusting antics of the likes of City of God and Amores Perros, it came as quite a surprise for this quieter, more restrained example of Latin cinema to perform so well on the 2004 international festival circuit.
The Uruguayan directors Pablo Stoll and Juan Pablo Rebella, following their previous effort 25 Watts (2001), once again centre their story in the small, provincial town of Montevideo. Jacobo Koller owns a modest sock factory that employs a few local women, including Marta. A year after his mother's death, his successful businessman brother Hermann visits from Brazil to attend the memorial. Jacobo requests that Marta pretends to be his wife while his brother stays. After the ceremony, the three take an impromptu trip to a small seaside resort.
While this premise may sound overly familiar from a million-and-one lightweight US sitcoms, the delivery is never short of fresh and intriguing. It rarely approaches the sort of twee sentimentality we might expect after reading a short synopsis. Almost nothing is said for the first half of the film as we observe the characters' drab, innocuous lives. And yet, despite this, the film somehow succeeds in upholding a surprisingly light and comic atmosphere. There are genuine moments of deadpan humour. The actors (schooled in the reticence of the national theatre) never force the comedy, in fact it is more often the camera that delivers the punchline; the constant repetition and rituals, the framing of the lanky Jacobo and squat Marta and a sudden romantic karaoke sequence that is all the more touching for its spontaneity.
Like the titular drink, Whisky is warm, satisfying and definitely suitable for repeat viewings.
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