ridiculously disorganized portrait of life on a dissipated Argentinian country estate. Martel's background is in shorts, animated and otherwise (which is curious, since she shows none of the animator-turned-live-action-director's propensities for visual extravagence, e.g. Terry Gilliam and Jean-Pierre Jeunet), and documentaries, where I guess she thought she could be as disconnected as she liked. She was wrong and this film, while not boring, failed to have justification for its existance.
This is one of those movies where the weather metaphorically represents the mood; of course, it's always stormy weather. The alcoholics gathered on this estate have a few problems, and so daughter comes down with her kids to help out for a whiole, as does the brother. There's a lot of stuff going on between family members, none of it spelled-out (which in this case would actually have helped): possible incest, possible lesbianism, all sorts of other "possibles" that we're never sure about. Then there's the matriarch's persistent laziness and racism.
Apparently raised in such circumstances, Martel never errs in her portrait's seeming authenticity and for that reason the film is, while not riveting, watchable and recognizable as true to human nature. But what's the point? There is none, and the whole thing out to have been thought through more carefully, something Martel could have perhaps pulled off with a co-screenwriter. Oh yeah: there's also an extended metaphor of the family representing current Argentinian society, mired in all sorts of muck. In light of that country's recent economic collapse, I'm not sure the analogy is completely appropriate but what the hell, Martel ought to know better than I. This seems more like a student film than anything else. Though Martel reaches for humanism, her lack of understanding of what all this adds up to (other than, apparently, exorcism of a crappy childhood) undoes her.
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