What I Love the Most
By JONATHAN HOLLAND
With: Pilar Gamboa, Maria Villar, Esteban Lamothe, Leonardo Castaneda.
Men are a problem for the two emotionally fragile friends in the psychologically penetrating but light-of-touch "What I Love the Most." Focusing on a few key moments as the duo spend a few days together, rather than setting them in a traditional narrative, pic is inevitably low on drama but more than makes up for it in nuance, courtesy of fine perfs from Pilar Gamboa and Maria Villar, delivered under demanding circumstances. A multiple prizewinner at Buenos Aires, pic reps a strong, fest-friendly calling card for editor-turned-helmer Delfina Castagnino.
We first meet the two young women (Gamboa and Villar, unnamed either onscreen or in the credits) overlooking some terrific mountain scenery, their backs to us. They discuss relationships: Villar's character confesses she's having a trial separation from her boyfriend after being with him for four years. As they chill out, they're approached by Martin (Leonardo Castaneda) and his friend Diego (Esteban Lamothe); Gamboa's character, having recently broken up with Martin, pretends to be asleep. The boys invite them to a party, where Martin will be playing with his band.
At the party, following an unhappy phone call between Villar's character and her boyfriend, she and Diego chat; he tries to seduce her, she's uncertain about how to handle it. The scene is by far the pic's wordiest, captured in a single 13-minute take, and both thesps come through it with flying colors.
The emphasis shifts to Gamboa's character, whose father has just died, and who now has the responsibility of firing the employees at the sawmill he owned. Gamboa's big scene takes five minutes in unforgiving closeup as she calls out the names of the unfortunate men, mechanically delivers the bad news and hands over compensation, building to the film's most poignant moment.
Emotionally, then, the women are traveling in opposite directions -- one toward the future and a possible relationship with Diego, the other back into the past and her relationship with her father. There is a new tension between the women, and the closest the pic comes to conventional suspense is in whether it will provide an answer to the implicit question of the title.
Pic is basically a string of long takes with a static camera, a technique that will lend some scenes a powerful charge for attentive viewers. The downside is that in some scenes -- of a guy chopping down a tree, for example, for close to two minutes -- there is little to do except admire the composition and enjoy the occasional moments of gentle comedy.
The decision to not name the two leads seems to suggest that they're typical, and indeed, that's just how they come across. Both actresses deliver quietly understated, naturalistic and well-judged perfs as young women gripped by emotional confusion, and the all-important chemistry between them registers as well.
Still, the women's lack of objectives may affect the viewer's sympathy toward them, and toward a script that, though wonderfully balanced in drawing parallels between the two characters, seems stubbornly determined to leave every question unanswered.
Music is eschewed until the final credits, presumably in the name of realism.
Camera (color), Soledad Rodriguez; art director, Sofia Berakha; sound (Dolby), Rodrigo Sanchez Marino, Andres P. Estrada. Reviewed on DVD, Madrid, May 3, 2010. (In Buenos Aires Film Festival -- international competition.) Running time: 76 MIN.
By JONATHAN HOLLAND
The Daily Actions Los actos cotidianos (Argentina)
A Las Ganas Que Te Deseo, SCCDF Digitales, Taller DCRP, Enecine production. (International sales: Las Ganas Que Te Deseo, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Alejandro Israel, Ines de Oliveira Cezar. Directed, written by Raul Perrone.
With: Soledad Aguilera, Adrian Aguilera, Maria Galvan.
The Daily Actions" of the latest downbeat-and-dirty offering from Raul Perrone are those of a disadvantaged family in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Typically no-concessions fare from a helmer who defiantly plows his own furrow, this sometimes powerful, sometimes tedious, sometimes unexpectedly moving film has the real rebel spirit, utilizing no-frills documentary realism to persuasively show things as Perrone believes they are. Pic is unlikely to extend Perrone's faithful following; limited fest appearances are likeliest.
Enfolding the fragile consolations of home and the dangers of the cruel world outside, pic reps both a family portrait and a slice of social criticism. Impoverished, unsmiling and perpetually in survival mode, Sole (Soledad Aguilera) and her unemployed brother Bebo (Adrian Aguilera, Soledad's real-life sibling) live in a low-lit slum with their respective kids and their mostly silent mother (Maria Galvan). Perrone records them smoking incessantly, talking in circles and texting; when they listen to the radio or bring gossip home, some dark event is generally the subject. A tremendously evocative late scene beautifully contrasts the bright colors of a kids' play area with the muted tones that tend to dominate.
Camera (color), Perrone, Bernardo Demonte; editor, Zaida de Pedro; music, Anahi Colombo. Reviewed on DVD, Madrid, May 5, 2010. (In Buenos Aires Film Festival -- Argentine competition.) Running time: 82 MIN.
Nota: aquí hay un error. Alejandro Israel e Inés de Oliveira Cezar no tienen nada que ver con la peli de Perrone. Será que el crítico de Variety se confundió y agarró la gacetilla de la peli de Oliveira Cezar, "El recuento de los daños"...