9/10 For bravery, bold choices, stunning visuals and elliptical exploration of mortality, poetry and the politics of expression.
Of course there are flaws, but the work of a first feature (and particularly one of this ambitious nature) are bound to contain them.
The film's beginning promises less than it delivers. The actor/filmmaker is searching for something -- a way into this short story, a validation for his motivation, a tick from above. His journey is almost that of a detective -- one who is learning to co-exist as a sociologist and a human (grieving and alienation from one's own experience are some of the film's central questions).
The images reflect the filmmakers own inner turmoil -- do i distance the audience or allow them to feel? Am I to pillage the young girl for experience or am i to relent to powerlessness? Extreme wide shots of the man wrestle alongside tender close ups. Especially when we arrive at the sequences of the young girl as she demands the background of the filmmakers actions (the white dress climbing the staircase et all) The music (and sudden disappearance of music) with image and darkness is not so effective for me. Perhaps the device is used too much but I also understand the sound mix was not final. I think without the black the film would have felt more surefooted. But this is maybe an aesthetic bias for me. However the choice of music is fantastic. The piece towards the end is very high in drama and my initial reaction was to balk -- but the sentimental piece could possibly be paying tribute to the innate romantic indulgence of some type of cinema. And as an audience member, we were aware of the manipulation -- which was what, I expect, Palavecino was trying to achieve.
In light of this, the audience is never sure whether Palavecino is playing satire of the filmmakers intention of paying it self-reflexive homage. The uneasy mix is good, however, as to rely too formerly on the latter would suggest a kind of immaturity. But instead Palavecino always chooses to walk a fine line between satire and earnest emotion -- reminiscent of "Contempt" "8 1/2" and "Day for Night" but closer to the school of Godard I believe.
The scene in the cafe where he receives criticism for his unfaithful adaptation is where the real magic of this film begins to unfold. The couple at a nearby table could almost be characters from the unmade Conti film -- and from this point on the film works with these double levels.
In the end, I am left with a story about uneasy ambition, artistic expression, loneliness and love -- and the artist's uneasy choice to either be caught up in the maelstrom of experience or detached from it.
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