Ok, I have to post this really early since I forgot I was going out of town today.
Sidewalls (medianeras) tells the story of Martin (Javier Drolas) and Mariana (Pilar Lopez de Ayala). Two slightly, and I put a bit of emphasis on slightly, damaged people who live similarly distant lives all the while living in direct opposite buildings. Their lives constantly intersect with only brief moments of a connection, but quickly go on about their business.
Before I get to the narrative itself, I must commend director Gustavo Taretto and DoP Leandro Martinez in creating such a beautiful picture of modern day Argentina. Before making films, I believe he was primarily focused on different aspects of photography and design. It obviously shows here. I could easily watch much of the film without the audio just to admire the images of the city and how the history of the city is so embedded into the architecture.
Much of the cityscape images occur within the first ten minutes or so of the film. This is where we are also introduced to our two main characters and this is also one of the weaker sections of the film. Here I think we learn almost too much about them, which leaves a lot of room for meandering about halfway through. This is does not hinder the film at all, but since this is a character driven film and we basically know where these people will end up, all this information could have been strategically placed to fill in some flat spots.
But as I say, it does not entirely hinder the film because we are able to watch some great acting by our two leads and I am drawn to both since I really don’t know anything about them in real life. Drolas has only been in a handful of films and I’m somewhat familiar with Ayala having been in Fresnadillo’s Intruders (2011) and Oliviera’s The Strange Case of Angelica (2010). There are also great supporting performers as well.
It is also quite apparent that Taretto is somewhat of a cinephile. I think much of the beginning is an ode to Amelie and the way Jeunet introduces the characters and the references to Tati and the fear of industrialization. I don’t mind it when directors make references to other films, but in such a direct manor is a bit too much for me. Once it gets past all that is when the film really begins to take shape on it’s own.
There’s a scene that really sums up the entire film for me. The scene in particular is when Martin goes on a blind date and is chatting with the woman and the voice over kicks in.
“These dates are like McDonalds combos. They look larger and more delicious in the photographs. Every time I go on a date, I suffer from the same deception as with a Big Mac.”
Here is the essence of modern society. I think that society is so engrossed in the Internet age that we develop these false expectations about how things are supposed to be and when we’re confronted with them in real life, we’re ultimately disappointed. The internet allows us to embellish who we really are and at some point it’ll be pushed too far and as we are disappointed more and more people will essentially withdraw themselves with interest in having cyber lives rather than going out and actually living.
There are some great compositions that are mirrored throughout both stories which added significantly to the overall plight of the characters. Given the type of film that it is, we know that these people will eventually end up together and I think in these mirrored images, it makes the audience, really me, want that to happen so much more.
Overall, I give it a 4/5. It was very enjoyable and I can find more good than bad.
-The film captures very well the sort of lost feeling that technology and culture bring with them. The blame can be given to everything from cell phones, McDonalds, Star Wars, internet dating. I will also never look at Where’s Waldo in the same way.
-Most films try to capture the feeling of being alone in a public crowded space. This film does this very well in the swimming scene.
-The acting is stellar, the actress playing the dog walker is a particular stand out.
-Although the director has great talent, his more quirky ideas are as distracting as dogs barking during sex.
-The vocations (working with dummies, working on computers) are a little on the nose for commentary.
-The characters (at points) seem to be biding their time. I felt this way too. I remember checking the clock thinking the film must be wrapping up and this was 50mins in.
Whenever you have two damaged/quirky characters, one always seems more damaged. Here the girl was hard to relate to (though props to any girl who can cry over Woody Allen’s plight in Manhattan).
All in all, 3/5 (the good overpowers the bad).
I’ve been wanting to see this for a while (since I first saw the trailer)
Check it out. We could use more people involved in this.
“Here is the essence of modern society. I think that society is so engrossed in the Internet age that we develop these false expectations about how things are supposed to be and when we’re confronted with them in real life, we’re ultimately disappointed. The internet allows us to embellish who we really are and at some point it’ll be pushed too far and as we are disappointed more and more people will essentially withdraw themselves with interest in having cyber lives rather than going out and actually living.”
You made me like the movie a little more with that. Great write up, man.
I never found it to be boring, but meandered until something surprisingly thoughtful and poignant appeared. I really appreciated how the film showed the two leads’ depression and dissatisfaction with not anyone else but themselves. I don’t think they have any issue with other people, but have come to the sad conclusion that they are incapable of surprising themselves anymore.
Throughout the film, I became convinced that they wouldnt be the perfect couple when they got together, but would suit each other just fine if they allowed themselves to open up. Their plainness and lack of ability to connect was my favorite route it took with the characters rather than when it added Wes Anderson like quirks (the Waldo thing, really?).
I liked it. I felt I had to wait too long for the very good things to come along, and I personally would have preferred a shortage of dialogue when the camera showed the buildings. Letting the viewer see the environment for what it is on their own would have been plenty better than having it spelled out. It took the personal experience out of it.
dammit i forgot about this but i will watch right now. love buenos aires
I agree, Lover. Less dialogue in the city-scape scenes would have made much more of an impression. All this information could have been used in the flat spots and it would have seemed to take as ok g to get where it was going. Also, knowing so much about the characters early on takes away a lot of the discovery and we realise that they’ll be great together and we know that they will end up together eventually. Knowing this so early on makes that last hour or so seem much longer than it really should be.
romcoms might be my least favorite genre. i respect that it tried to do something different but the characters were just too self consciously quirky and odd. enjoyed the cityscapes but the people rapidly grew annoying
The characters sure could’ve used some work.
but i still give it 3/5. it amused me with many eyerolling moments :)
I like how it wasn’t afraid to show one of it’s lead characters be shitty (Mariena ditching the date after making the guy walk so man flights of stairs). But yeah, she grew very annoying as well. Realistic in its depiction of how we ruin something good rather than someone else, but annoying nonetheless.
I agree, Tomas, that info would have been great fill in for the flat spots. I thought after I posted my first comment that I would have liked to see them not get together in the end, but realized that it would have been just as unsatisfying. Last year’s Submarine found the perfect balance on this double edged sword, IMO.
I don’t think they’d be great together. They’d probably break up eventually, but during the early relationship period prove to be great antidotes for their depression (at least that’s how I think it would break down).
Mariana looks like Jennifer Connolly…
I think the ending would have been much better if left a bit more ambiguous. Put them in a situation where they could have gone their separate ways or end up together. I think the ending is a bit too optimistic considering that these two people had been so distanced from people to begin with. That little bit of questioning at the end would have definitely coincided with the ideas that the film put forward. But then again, it was still quite cute that she had found her Waldo.
Oh and Submarine, talk about characters who are self conciously quirky and odd. Sheesh.
I have to say this is one of the better films I have seen in the last year or so. The two leads are fantastic and my favourite aspect of the film is the way Taretto links peoples lives with those of buildings, using voice-over and excellent still camera shots of Buenos Aires.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way the film developed and although there was something akin to inevitability about the ending this doesnt detract from the film at all.