October 6, 2009

The Window

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ***½

Another in Film Movement's seemingly endless array of worthwhile movies, The Window, a co-production of Argentina and Spain, is the second fine film I’ve seen from Argentine-born Carlos Sorin (Intimate Stories being the other) that tells a small tale quietly and exceedingly well.

Here, an old man (played by Antonio Larreta) waits and frets about the arrival of his son, an internationally-known pianist. An argument years ago severed father-son ties but the younger man is now returning, at least briefly. The father is dressed, fed and otherwise seen to by his two maids, and today a piano tuner works on the ancient upright while a medical doctor (the wonderful Arturo Goetz) attends to the old man.

The setting is Patagonia, which I had always imagined as pretty desolate. The section shown in this film may be cut off from civilization (a short wave radio stands in for the telephone) but it is a simply gorgeous spot: arid and dry but full of fields and flowers. The old man's abode is equally beautiful, standing alone as it does on the plain. Nature is ever-present and seems relatively benign. Nothing much happens in the film, and yet not a moment is wasted. Everything we see fascinates, due to so many well-chosen details of everyday life. Some, but not much, of the back story is filled in, so we can piece together bit and pieces of the past. Conversations are had, a walk is taken, arrivals and departures made. In the process "civilization" intrudes but is put promptly and charmingly in its place.

At the end of this wonderful day (the movie takes place in but a 24-hour period and lasts only 85 minutes), we feel as if we've experienced something major, primal -- quiet and unhurried though it was. This is Sorin's gift: to create a film so relaxed and genuine, that it is, in its humble way, almost startling.

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Posted by cphillips at October 6, 2009 11:04 AM
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