Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sabrás qué hacer conmigo

When Nicolás (Pablo Derqui) first sees Isabel (Ilse Salas) taking a drag by the hospital lounge entrance, he knows at once that he has found a good subject for his photography, although it is quite obvious that there is also some carnal attraction involved. He invites her to his exhibition, and to his surprise, he later finds her there. They flirt once or twice before eventually hooking up, but life is never without complications. She is still reeling over her brother’s death who, despite being gone for almost two decades, still affects the family as if it was just yesterday. He, on the other hand, suffers from a grave illness that could strike anywhere and anytime. Navigating through the complications of their newfound happiness, they try to reconcile their differences as far as their opinion on life and death is concerned.

It’s not always fun to sit for two hours and watch a film dealing with death as a theme, but it does put some things into perspective. As always, there are two opposing sides with different beliefs regarding the issue. In this movie, that delineation is clear cut. Nicolás is not afraid of it. Isabel has been traumatized by it for almost half of her life. Their respective reactions are supposed to be the main cause of friction for their relationship not to work, but they do away with that here by focusing more on the relationship itself, and what makes two human beings “in love” tick.

The plot is not that linear, at least for the first half. We are first introduced to Nicolás’ point of view, until his story reaches a climactic scene that serves as a cliffhanger. We are then brought back to the very beginning, but this time from Isabel’s perspective. Such narration style can appear as pure gimmickry and come off as lazy storytelling on the part of the director, but the technique is utilized well in that a lot of revelations suddenly come into play, which makes you realize that things are not always what they seem to be.

The second half begins by merging the two POVs, aptly called "Nicolás y Isabel," which obviously focuses on the dynamics between the two. In a way this is a good thing because we get to see the relationship from each of their own perspectives before we take the plunge into the realm of “it’s complicated” which is a blur most of the time, generally avoided by directors by relying on formula so as to be more palatable to the general audience. In this regard, this film manages to stand out.

This does not mean, however, that the movie is a joy to watch. It is actually quite difficult to sit through it because it's just so replete with human misery that at times it feels as though you are watching a documentary of sorts. If you entered the cinema for the purpose of escapism, you definitely chose the wrong movie. Storytelling aside, the brilliance of this film relies on the strength of its actors, and both of them are able to deliver way beyond expectations.

The climax is undeniably beautiful. The shots are picture perfect, while the circumstance makes it appear as though a compromise has been reached and rendered through figurative means. Nevertheless, it seems a bit anticlimactic because you already have the inkling early on that it is going to end that way, especially with the somber tone prevalent throughout the film. You have to admit, though, that there seems to be no alternative ending that can be deemed more appropriate. After all, moving on appears to be the thesis here, and there is no arguing that it is, indeed, achieved. But yes, it IS predictable.

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