After his father's suicide, confused angsty 16 year old Paul goes to stay with his uncle's family. His uncle's wife is also unhappy with her life, so she and Paul have sex and only end up feeling even worse afterwards. Things get ugly.
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Edward James Olmos,
Maria Conchita Alonso,
Paul, 16 years old, arrives to live at his aunt's house, after his father's death. Alongside her aunt Anna lives his cousin Robert. Paul's arrival is unexpected, creating great tension between the three of them, especially between Anna and Paul. Written by
An emotionally disturbed teenager turns up at the home of some repressed relatives. This simple substrate economically combines a surprising number of subtle issues: grief, boredom, alcoholism, stress, lust, and homosexuality, amounting to quite a timebomb in a deceptively domestic situation. It has a dusky, brooding quality - feeling almost like a mild version of Funny Games or Visitor Q.
The boy is dealing with his father's recent suicide and an evident sense of abandonment resulting in various behavioural phenomena that sociologists will have terms for. His cousin's family has its own emotional issues, a neurotic, artistic mother and son, the latter on the booze while practising Berg's piano sonata (providing a sophisticated tone) for an audition; his mother a bored housewife of impulsive passion. Sounds of mastication are used frequently - repulsive, but it lends a surreal, intimate effect.
With so many issues at play though, the meaning is muddled. Frustration, disillusionment, nihilism, betrayal and revenge blur any over-riding theme, which most likely is the new preoccupation of the age: insecurity. Sensitisation of society is on the upcreep. Having set up their lives of suburban serenity, they have too much to lose - everything becomes unbearably precious and the effort of keeping together what was so laboriously acquired causes mild derangement in the most ordinary people. Mild derangement is very much the order of the day here.
It wends its way slowly and interestingly enough, but the somewhat degenerate ending undermines much of what the film was surely trying to achieve along the way. If the boy was merely sociopathic, then much of the useful meaning is eroded. Still, it's worthwhile art-house fair that will stay in the mind on account of its hermetic, drifting, almost dreamlike quality.
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