Sunday, May 11, 2014

DVDebut/streaming tip: Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge's family "coming-of-ager," TANTA AGUA

On the Film Movement site's page that features TANTA AGUA (FM is the company that's distributing the movie here in the USA) are posted two member reviews. One states that, after watching the film, the viewer wanted to see a mindless Hollywood movie; the other compares the experience to the over-used critique of "watching paint dry." TrustMovies admits that Tanta Agua unveils slowly and rather carefully. This is not an action movie. As to watching paint dry, if at the end of that drying period -- and let's, for time constraint's sake, say it is painted in acrylic rather than oil -- you find yourself gazing at a painting by Caravaggio or Botticelli, are you going to complain? I didn't think so.

I should also mention, because I think this is important (and if the following is a sexist remark, so be it), that both comments on the FM site were posted by men. So many men, it seems, have so little interest in the life and mind and experience of women and girls, that it is little wonder that a movie that centers on this would bore them. Too bad, because Tanta Agua (the title, and it's a fine and appropriate one, means "so much water") is full of the specificity of the life and experience of a teen-age girl in that absolutely in-between time when she is too old to be a child but too young to be able to handle things like love and lust for the opposite sex in anything approaching an adult manner. Add to this the need to wear braces on the teeth, and you have a particularly difficult time.

The filmmakers here are both women -- Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge, shown above, with (I believe) Ms Jorge on the left -- and they are alert to the nuances of teen life, family life, sibling love and anger, and the bonding of young girls (until a boy comes between them) that the movie, for all its slow pace, is never in the least boring for anyone who enjoys watching life unfurl. You simply have to be willing to give the film time to blossom. Which it definitely does. 

A divorced or separated father (the chubby/funny/sad Néstor Guzzini, above, right) takes his older daughter (Malú Chouza, at left) and younger son (Joaquín Castiglioni) on vacation to a spa resort, at which, unfortunately, they are greeted with non-stop rain. They make the best of things for awhile, and slowly the situation begins to change. The family "dance" of enforced togetherness has its ups and down, but the son meets a kid his own age, the daughter notices (and is noticed by) a good-looking young fellow, and Dad even grows involved with a hot, blond woman. Small events occur that make a difference and begin to build, particularly for our teenage heroine in her move toward adulthood.

At the finale, the family is still on vacation but -- whoa! -- how much has really gone on here. There is not a false moment in the whole movie; the performances from everyone are as good as can be (with Ms Chouza's and Señor Guzzini's particularly fine); the dialog and screenplay offer just enough to keep us on track without undue exposition (how the food packed by the absent mother is handled speaks volumes); and the filmmakers place their camera unobtrusively but pointedly.

Tanta Agua is a lovely first full-length film, so I hope we'll hear more from Guevara and Jorge, together or individually. The movie -- running 102 minutes -- hits the streets on DVD from Film Movement this Tuesday, May 13, and, as usual with this company's titles, should appear very soon on Netflix Streaming, Amazon Instant Video and on the company's own streaming site.  

As always with the movies from FM, viewers get an accompanying short, which is often as good as the film itself. (But you have to rent -- or maybe even purchase -- the DVD, rather than stream the movie, to see it.) The short featured with Tanta Agua is titled Home Road Movies by Robert Bradbrook, and it's an absolutely dear concoction, assembled as a kind of collage of animation, photos, and one well-known actor (Bill Paterson) who plays the father of a family who is in thrall to an automobile. The cumulative effect here is one of steadfast British reserve and utter poig-nancy. This brief-but-award-winning gem from 2002 is in a class by itself.

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