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One early morning, at the beginning of a very hot summer, Mariano, a 17-year-old teenager, returns home, jumps into the pool and does some laps with a stopwatch. Then he gets out and mows the lawn, where he accidentally cuts the mower's power cord when he runs over it. Set on fixing it, he goes to find tools but stumbles across a gun that he brings back to his room to shoot himself twice. But Mariano survives: one bullet just grazed his head and the other one, he believes, is stuck somewhere inside his body even if the doctors can't find it anywhere, nor any exit wound for that matter. The only after effect he seems to have is a mysterious double-note when he plays music with his friends, which according to him is probably the result of the bullet still being inside him. But Mariano's impulsive act will have other consequences on the people surrounding him. Written by
In Argentine director Martin Rejtman's Two Shots Fired aka Two Gun Shots (Dos Disparos), his first film after a ten-year hiatus, 16-year-old Mariano (Rafael Federman) comes home at night from a dance, gets something to eat, mows the lawn, takes a few laps in the swimming pool, then finds a gun in the tool shed and calmly and matter-of-factly shoots himself, first in the head, then in the stomach, but miraculously survives. Like Richard Cory in the poem by Edward Arlington Robinson, who one calm summer night, went home and put a bullet through his head, Mariano is bent on self-destruction, though he cannot think of any reason why he should be. Later, he tells a psychiatrist that he shot himself because "it was hot outside."
Rejtman absurdist comedy, a cross between Antonioni and Kaurismaki, deconstructs urban life to the point that relationships cease to exist as an expression of human emotion. Walking through a claustrophobic suburban milieu like zombies, nothing registers on the character's inscrutable faces as they go through repetitive humdrum behavior, not really affected by, or reflecting about anything that happens to them. As Rejtman explains, "They don't really suffer, because they don't think about what's going on." In Rejtman's world, characters come and go to be replaced by different ones, events are ambiguous and only seemingly connected by a thin thread. The film is less episodic than disjointed.
Mariano, who narrates the film from time to time, can shoot himself twice and be fine the next week. Nothing seems to have changed with him. The only after effect is that the Baroque flute quartet he plays in sounds like a quintet because of the reverberation of the metal bullet still inside his stomach. Only his mother Susanna (Susana Pampin) has changed in that she now hides sharp instruments in the house and requires Mariano to always have his cell phone on, but nothing in her demeanor conversation or interactions would hint at the fact that her son has just tried to commit suicide. The only thing that seems slightly disturbing is that their dog ran away.
The film is marked by the endless ringing of cell phones that seem to occur in the most inopportune moments such as the middle of the rehearsal of the flute quartet. Because one of the members left, the quartet (now a trio) is forced to audition and hire Lucia (Manuela Martelli), who sent in a nude picture of herself, saying that it was the only one she had. Meanwhile, Mariano's brother Ezequiel (Benjamin Coelho) seeks a relationship with a young employee Ana (Camila Fabbri) who works at a fast-food restaurant that looks strangely like McDonalds and who has been breaking up with her boyfriend for the last two years. The absurdities pile on. New characters enter the scene.
After taking three pills and sleeping for 72 hours, Susana goes on a beach trip with music teacher Margarita (Laura Paredes) accompanied by Liliana (Daniela Pal), who needs a place to sleep but complains about the fleas in her bed. No emotions are expressed. There is no background music or camera angles, only a robotic unfolding of meaningless events that "creep in this petty pace from day to day, till the last syllable of recorded time," or at least until the movie ends. If you're in tune with Rejtman's strange sense of humor, you will become involved with these characters, even though they are uninvolved with their own life.
To say that Two Shots Fired is offbeat is like saying The Godfather is about crime. Rejtman explains why he prefers to make this kind of film says, "That's what I like most. It's what gives me pleasure and it's one of the reasons I make movies, so I couldn't get away from it. I know it's a very particular kind of humor and some people may not know if you're supposed to laugh or not, but I don't care, I laugh." Whatever else you can say about the film, like life, it is a singular experience and the joke's on us.
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