Sunday, July 7, 2013

Matías Piñeiro's VIOLA (yes, she from Twelfth Night) opens theatrically in NYC

What a delicious and novel experience is VIOLA, the new film from writer/
director Matías Piñeiro, and what a debt of gratitude we owe The Cinema Guild for taking a chance on this little delight by giving it a limited theatrical release. Only 61 minutes long, the movie merges its themes with its style (not to mention its probably minimal budget) so ingeniously that it becomes nearly sui generis.

The filmmaker (shown at right) is doing something with Shakepeare's Twelfth Night, but what, exactly? He's certainly not trying to give us the entire play nor even a good part of it. Instead we get a scene performed in front of an audience (take note: you'll see some of these characters again), and another scene rehearsed over and over, for reasons other than mere line memorization, so that the Bard's language (which sounds quite wonderful in Spanish) takes on its original meaning -- and then some.

This is a movie about performance (among other things) -- in theater, on one's job, between lovers. And as Twelfth Night is perhaps the Shakespeare play most about "performance," Piñeiro turns it into dual tales regarding young women's lessons in love. Foremost among these is Cecilia, played by the captivating Agustina Muñoz, shown above, below, on poster top, at bottom and in the penultimate photo.

Piñeiro gives us entry into the world of women in such a manner as to make these females seem so appealing, bright, and full of unique intelligence and life that at times we might imagine that we've never really seen this species until now. This is quite an accomplishment!

The movie begins with Sabrina (Elisa Carricajo, above, who is essaying the play's Olivia) breaking up a boyfriend via cell phone, and doing it so thoroughly and well that you marvel at her technique. We meet her friends and co-performers, and eavesdrop on their witty, thoughtful conversations.

Then, at the 24-minute mark, the story's lead character changes to that of Viola (María Villar, above, left, and below, right), whom we've glimpsed earlier, but probably didn't realize it, on her bike. She's a partner in a smart new delivery business, and as we observe her and learn more, the tale and its connections expand and then circle in on themselves.

By the finale, we've observed an exquisite little slice-of-life, young Argentine style. And we're thrilled, if in awe and a bit mystified, by these remarkable women. Is Shakespeare still relevant?
Don't even ask.

Viola opens this coming Friday, July 12, in Manhattan at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, along with a Retrospective of Señor Piñeiro’s films -- as part of the FSLC's Latinbeat 2013 series. See the complete schedule here.

No comments: