The Austin Chronicle

Tales That Must Be Told

Previewing the ninth Cine las Americas

By Marjorie Baumgarten, April 14, 2006, Screens


D: Juan Pablo Rebella, Pablo Stoll; with Andrés Pazos, Mirella Pascual, Jorge Bolani

The co-writers and directors of the well-received Uruguayan comedy 25 Watts are back with their sophomore effort, a slyly droll film that's best served straight with no chaser. In a manner that owes no small debt to the films of Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismäki, the filmmakers share with the audience their perceptive observations of their characters while at the same time rushing to no formal conclusions about their behaviors. Tightly framed shots and narrative minimalism provide the framework for this low-budget story about a taciturn businessman, his sham wife, and his estranged brother. Jacobo (Pazos) is the owner of a rundown sock factory. His rigid and dull daily routine is complemented by Marta (Pascual), his factory worker who functions as a surrogate shop foreman and office spouse. Prompted by the visit of his brother Herman (Bolani), who left Uruguay for Brazil many years ago to improve his life, Jacobo asks Marta to pose as his wife for the duration of the visit. The usually dour Marta agrees. Incrementally, we discover bits and pieces about all three characters, although the filmmakers are never interested in explaining to us why the characters behave the way they do. We watch and listen, and occasionally pick up a resentment here, a guilt pang there, but we never know precisely what motivates these people. Movies that feature fake marriages as essential plot elements (a common ploy) usually take the wacky screwball route toward their conclusions; Whisky, on the other hand, glides toward its resolution with the calm that comes from greeting each moment with a wry smile.

Friday, April 21, 9pm, Metropolitan

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