|Index||10 reviews in total|
I saw this film as it premiered at the Rotterdam Festival. It is a
beautifully judged rendering of a teenager's dysfunctional life at home
and sexual experimentation with friends. Every scene is perfectly
pitched and rife with playful directorial invention such as the main
character's (Lucas?) idle toying with the 'monkey with banana' toy in
the girl's bedroom and the 'open/closed' game and his mother's English
lesson earlier - there are many examples. The direction of the subject
matter is fresh, sensitive, mature and never contrived, indulgent or
heavy handed. The camera work is some of the best DV work I've ever
seen, artful, free, fluid and instinctive.
Most impressive is how every role is perfectly cast, particularly the teenagers (although I may have had initial reservations about the father, I was sufficiently convinced by the end). The central character is realised by a soulful performance from the beautiful quirky looking actor. He has the most subtly expressive face, at once mischievous and vulnerable.
It is a fine fearless debut brimming with talent, good taste and a big beating heart that transcends it's meagre budget.
I've recently seen this movie at the International Film Festival
Rotterdam and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.
Glue is a movie about Lucas, a fifteen year old boy living in a desert town in Patagonia ( Argentina) and his friends Nacho and Andrea. Lucas' parents' relationship is pretty unstable, but he doesn't want to be confronted with it. So he decides to spend his time hanging out with his friends, just talking about life and experimenting with drugs and sex.
Glue is a beautiful film about coming of age in the windy, desert-like outskirts of Patagonia. This movie is filmed with a very low budget and is very minimalistic, but it nevertheless succeeds to present very beautifully shot images in which we are granted a peek into the life of teenagers growing up. All the major themes are represented: Love, sex, drugs and music. This movie presents a universally identifiable view on teenagers.
If you have also seen this movie and enjoyed it, I recommend watching 'temporada de patos'. It is like a lighter version of this movie.
If the point of the movie was suburban teenagers bored to distraction,
then it achieved its purpose quite well. The problem with this is it
also bores the viewer to distraction. Telling a story cinematically
doesn't achieve its end with visual gimmicks alone like cross processed
film and home movie additions without backing the story up with dialog
that the viewer (those over 15 years of age) can relate to. This type
of adolescent story has been done over and over again and for me, this
film doesn't achieve anywhere near the rating this site has given it.
The story itself seems to meander at its own pace using the absence of dialog to set the mood. In a sense, this seems to be in step with the emotional life of teenagers where dialog is at a minimum and the expression of emotion is not fully formed. This was a realistic way of portraying the subjects and the kids did a good job of bringing this off.
I attended the North American premiere of "Glue" at the Toronto
International Film Festival. In a phrase, it's Larry Clark meets Gus
Van Sant. But I say that in only the most complimentary of terms. The
camera basically follows a 15-year old as he discovers himself. He
wonders about his physical development, compares himself to his buddy,
and begins to explore his sexuality. The barren expanse of Patagonia is
the backdrop, the music of The Violent Femmes (who donated the songs
gratis) the appropriately angst-ridden soundtrack.
What makes it so different from most American films is that it's all just so natural. No judgments are made. We only observe through the lens of cinematographer Natasha Braier, as well as writer/director/producer Alexis Dos Santos, who did much of the camera-work himself. It's basically about mid-adolescence told, via voice-over, from the point of view of Lucas (Nahuel Perez Biscayart). Most amazingly, the entire film is improvised. Dos Santos held a Q&A afterward and said that he wrote virtually no dialog at all. There was a 17-page script basically outlining the action. But the three lead actors improvised from start to finish. As it turns out, all three had attended the same acting classes where they learned improv, so they were well-versed in the art and were already friends. And it shows. The chemistry between the teens evokes those awkward years as effectively as any film I've seen.
I asked Nahuel what his most difficult scene was and what was his favorite. I won't get too specific, but he most enjoyed some of the more physical aspects of the relationships he develops with his friends. He was quite honest and his matter-of-fact attitude was endearing. I met him afterward and he was polite and self-confident. When I walked up and told him what a good job he did, he thanked me with the look of a pro. He is from Argentina but speaks decent English. In spite of his young age, he has done 9 films and is something of a teen idol in South America. In the States he'd likely be one of the most sought-after young actors in the business.
If coming-of-age films have become a bit worn in the hands of Hollywood, "Glue" will serve as inspiration and provocation to American filmmakers. It's Larry Clark in Spanish. But sweet and non-judgmental. It will leave you with a smile on your face.
I really didn't want to dis this movie, because the acting/directing
was great and the movie does succeed in capturing the teenage vibe,
despite the male actors look a little older than 16 to me (still very
What makes me rate it a 4 is the total absence of a script. There is no depth of characters, no character development, no conflict. I don't mind experimental storytelling as long as I'm engaged and care for the characters. You don't in this movie and I found myself thinking like scandojazzbuff - wake me up when it's over.
The Gus Van Sant style rather annoyed than impressed me - that's how all alternative coming of age movies look like.
It seems to me many film makers want to both write and direct their movies. If you're not Woody Allen and can pull it off, maybe it would be a good idea to use that old thing called a scriptwriter.
Although the film does drag in places and there are scenes that really
don't connect to the story line (e.g. the camping trip), I'm impressed
by the overall coherence of the structure given its improvisational
approach. The cast were excellent in portraying the ennui of
adolescents in the middle of nowhere (to steal the film's subtitle),
and if anything, the acting is understated--a rarity for the form. The
cinematography, though, is what really impressed me. Not radically
original by any stretch (the opening sequence reminded me of Van Sant),
but effective in setting the mood of the piece.
What struck me most is the impressionistic nature of the film and how the fragments coalesce into the whole, which is something that rarely works for me. I'll use this in my creative writing classes to teach this impressionistic approach, but for narrative structure, I must go back to more conventional films, like "Y Tu Mama Tambien."
Director dos Santos takes us through the beautifully common streets of
Patagonia (Argentina) alongside three teenagers, where none is a
genius, a serial killer or has an issue other than being a teenager
living, as the Spanish title points out, in the middle of nowhere.
Nahuel Pérez Biscayart stars in a powerful performance as Lucas, a 15-year-old boy eager for a first sexual encounter, while surviving teen boredom hanging out with his best friend Nacho (Nahuel Viale) and quiet pal Andrea (Inés Efron, XXY), in whom he soon discovers the possibility of pleasure, unaware she's every bit a hormone clock-ticking bomb as he is. In their company he escapes a day at a time from what he perceives is his alienated family (a mother who teaches English in the morning, fights her husband's lover in the evening and screams at the man at night, only to forgive the following day and go out camping).
The fact that no dialogue was ever written in the script (a less than 20 pages long document) is a strong plus, considering all lead actors speak what they really think about being teens and feeling unimportant toward the world around them, which, in a very rare way results in accidental poetry, where no love or roses are cited. They want what every viewer once wanted, when being fifteen, and ask themselves the questions we all asked ourselves when we were young and restless. They remind us of that beauty we tend to ignore in our every day lives; the uniqueness of what our ordinary lives were.
Another fine side to the film is the carefully set soundtrack, which fits in perfect unison with Natasha Braier's cinematography and Lucas's wannabe singer aspirations, as well with the many silent minutes where one would think Glue is about to turn into a silent movie only to be pleasantly surprised by one of the character's sometimes groggy, sometimes wishful voices.
Some may wrongly consider Glue as gay cinema, since it has been shown at several gay film festivals. But the movie is not gay-oriented, nor does it have to do anything about being gay in Latin America. The movie is about being an adolescent and the feeling of being one, of knowing and not knowing what you really want and who you are. What this characters do is not exactly what we all did at our own times, or still do, for every person has a different story to tell, a different party to talk about, a different kiss to remember, but it captures the essence and wonders of teenagers today with bravura and honesty. As the US trailer says, it's not about the experience, but experiences. And watching Glue has been an exhilarating one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Alexis Dos Santos' Glue is an unpredictable film: surprising twists at
the end would have been utterly unnecessary. This is not a story that
needs to be resolved. It finds resolution in its own wandering
narrative lines that intercross with each other and sometimes build up
into new plots and sometimes just vanish into the seemingly vague
introspective monologue of the main characters.
Alexis Dos Santos creates a very interesting protagonist. A young boy that cannot yet define what it is he wants. A boy that can stare at the abyss without worrying about the abyss staring back at him (and in that sense, just like with Nietzsche's phrase, there is a full reaffirmation of life without going through the usual passages or topics). Lucas is a boy that notices with a strange fascination the hair protruding out of his best friend's armpit and wonders what the other boy might think of when indulging in solitary sexual stimulation.
Michel Foucault's affirms that fantasizing must be taken into account if one intends to understand masturbation; in Foucault's terms, masturbation is impossible without the subject's fantasy; and it's because of this fantasy more than the act itself that people in the Victorian age tried, by any means possible, to eradicate onanism. Nonetheless, the viewer cannot be privy to Lucas' fantasies when he engages into such activities. Is it then the fantasy that works as the Aristotelian primus motor that leads Lucas acts? And if so, what is Lucas constantly fantasizing about? Lucas also thinks about what it means to be a man, and why is it that a man must act according to some unwritten and yet fully endorsed social law. Andrea, a friend of his, also asks herself why it is that some activities are considered masculine while others aren't, she questions gender differences and sees how arbitrary they can be. Destabilizing Lacan's masculine and feminine positions, both characters undermine the core of it all: the name of the father. It's the name of the father, or nom de père, that inscribes a subject into the symbolic order and inserts him into either the masculine or the feminine position. It's no surprise, then, to see that Lucas at first tries to eliminate his father from his life (a father who is already an absent figure, a situation that occurs with the rest of the characters as well).
Can Lucas and his best friend Nacho continue to be friends despite Lucas hidden desire? It would seem like it as long as the friendship is structured upon an overtly heterosexual dynamic. This dynamic will be interrupted one night in which some boundaries are crossed and as a result Nacho feels guilty and decides to leave Lucas alone.
As soon as the father reinserts himself into Lucas life, the nom de père settles in. Lucas discovers inadvertently that it is not his mission to undermine the structures but to take advantage of them. And conquering Andrea's affections he also regains Nacho's interest. Then only through Andrea's body will Lucas be able to enjoy Nacho's body. When this most peculiar ménage a troi is carried out masturbation is no longer necessary, but even with the other body Lucas is still forced to sustain the fantasy that has led him from the very beginning.
If you enjoy the beauty of well-crafted post-production visual effects
lulling you to a hypnotic stupor, then this is the undemanding film for
you. If not, you could also catch up on your email while pretending to
watch it. Either way, you know that a talented After Effects artist
made a day-rate to slap on all the aesthetic milestones of the late 90s
- from jittery faux 8MM to film burn, dust and plenty of noise.
As if spawn from Gus Van Sant's forehead, this movie follows attractive faux-teens around as they awkwardly attempt to converse through unscripted dialogue. On the plus side, all of these 20-somethings are talented actors, and they push through this sorry morass of nothing like knives through hot, buttery glue. On the other hand, like sailing through a sea of mucilaginous kreplach, it takes just short of forever to putter through to something like a narrative conclusion. But make no mistake - the termination of what passes for a story in "Glue" is not a climax, but more of a but an exhausted collapse. With little in the way of dialogue to pollute the vacuum of story in this movie, it's a wonder any of the actors didn't fall to its toxic tediousness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival, and although I had high hopes, I didn't love it. The concept is good and should have worked - i.e. the frenetic and disjointed experience of teenage realities in remote Argentina being translated cinematically by alternating concentration on both the mundane and the exciting, using a lot of guerrilla hand-held camera work, solarized post-production, random cuts and stop-motion editing of the film. But the end product appears weak... at one point my friend said "I don't think I can stand another abstract, hand-held, blurry, close-up - its making me dizzy." The pacing of the film is really slow too. But I agree with some of the above comments - there are moments that are very sweet/naive - a total immersion into the teenage experience.
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