Chilean Cinema 2013 #1: Educación Física (2012)

(Chile 2012 105m) Cinépata

p Johanna Whittle d Pablo Cerda w Pablo Cerda, René Martin c Jorge González Vásquez ed Sebastián Arriagada

a Pablo Cerda, Tomás Vidiella, Carmen Fillol, Francisca Lewin, Rodrigo Soto

There is a certain kind of film directors that manage to have oustanding debuts and at the same time giving out stellar main performances directing themselves, for example, there’s the masterpiece that is Orson Welles’s ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941), that is always listed as one of the best actor/directors of all time alongside Charles Chaplin, and while, of course, he doesn’t compare to those masters of the craft, here we may have a promise, something that is good and at times really truly great considering the ‘inexperience’ of the director and the overall ‘known’ status of this actor in modern soap operas and other television projects as well as films. When I saw it, I didn’t expect it to be that good, and I was surprised with what Í got at the end, a film that has some serious implications regarding mid-life crisis, life outside the big cities, career decissions, love life and how people grow up to be something else than they think they will be, but personal problems, family matters and pure random circunstances lead us elsewhere. How interesting and encouraging is to find a movie with these subuects in chilean cinema, when you usually find these issues and problems in european cinema or american indie, but done in a much grittier and sometimes unbearable tone, while here it’s filmed andportrayed as things that just happen, people won’t usually shred their clothes over the common and eveyday harshness of life itself.

Why do I feel that the trail that this movie followed has been perfect? It played on a few national and international festivals, where it won critical acclaim as well as some prizes here and there, then it premiered online on the amazing website Cinépata, and now it’s having a small run on the Cineteca Nacional as part of the program of the best chilean films of 2012, and of course, this is the first commercial chilean release of 2013, and it’s also adecuate that I did list this movie in my recent review of the best chilean films of 2012. I think it’s adecuate since it’s a simple movie, and it also seems to be a cheap one, and it garnered a lot of attention from previous festivals, making it a must see online the time it was available, garnering a lot of views and online praise at the same time, and in doing that, Pablo Cerda can now go ahead and make a more ambitious film and maybe get a bigger budget and a bigger release and really start his now already promising career as a filmmaker, it’s a nice exposure to the film and it’s a testament of its simplicity of mediums and plot, while being completely effective in every step that it takes, as it has an impressive pace even if it is the first movie of this actor/director, impressive at all times, even if what the pace and the images are actually showing us isn’t always completely interesting.

Pablo Cerda plays a P.E. teacher a bit overweight that lives in San Antonio, a seaside small town near the capital of Chile, Santiago. There he leads a simple life accompanied by his father, whom he has never abandoned in his whole life, his sentimental involvements have been non-existant for quite a long time. Most of his time is spent badly teaching kids their P.E., eating junk food with his father or with friends from a long gone era, visiting his sister or playing basketball by himself. We see a long stretch of time of his life during this film, as the film maintains its own look at life as a monotonous and not impressive accumulation of moments that aren’t that exciting, except when they impact unto the personal feelings of those around him, and even after that, his emotions aren’t visible, they are hidden inside of his complex personality. This is a great lead performance from Pablo Cerda and he is accompanied by the great Tomás Vidiella playing the old father of Cerda’s character. The film is shot mostly with wide shots, trying to encapsule this enormous life that is available for us, and the little space that he actually occupies in it, as if trying to tell us how he is throwing his life away by not living it. It’s an incredibly complex film when you think about it, but it’s an easy watch, it lets yourself see it and enjoy it for what it is, but it sure grows on you, a lot.

The film is now playing at the Cineteca La Moneda in Chile, and is also available to see online with english subtitles here in Cinepata.

8/10

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