While not quite the classic its many international awards might indicate, this minimalist charmer from Uruguay delights with its off-beat sense of humor & interpersonal mysteries. It’s young filmmakers, Pablo Stoll and the late Juan Pablo Rebella, have obviously paid close attention to early Aki Kaurismäki (and perhaps late Luis Buñuel), but still sing a droll tune of their own in this three-hander about a middle-aged sock manufacturer who asks his long time assistant to pose as his wife when his brother from Brazil (also a sock manufacturer) comes to town for the anniversary of their mother’s death. From this set up, three wary relationships play out, almost in slow motion, with a quiet comic edge rising from human foibles bumping into each other. Especially so, when the younger, livelier brother insists on extending his visit with a trip to the nearly deserted grand hotel of a once vibrant oceanfront resort town. The film never finds the ‘found beauty’ of a Kaurismäki composition, with its visual balance & blocks of vibrant color, nor do they attempt the dense narrative stratagems Kaurismäki manages without you realizing it. Here, if you think you’re just moseying along, chances are, you are just moseying along. But it’s often a pleasurable stroll, and there’s a neat payoff you get to put together inside your own head.
DOUBLE-BILL: Kaurismäki’s early ‘Proletariat Trilogy’ pairs up nicely. Especially, THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL/’90 or ARIEL/’88, which also makes a fine introduction to his work in general.