Argentinian Cinema 2013 #9: La Paz (2013)

(Argentina 2013 73m) Online Screener

p Iván Eibuszyc, Santiago Loza d/w Santiago Loza c Iván Fund ed Lorena Moriconi, Valeria Otheguy s Javier Ntaca

a Lisandro Rodríguez, Eugenia Alonso, Fidelia Batallanos Michel, Ivonne Maricel Batallanos, Beatriz Bernabe, Fernanda Perez Bodria, Ricardo Felix, Pilar Gamboa, Veronica Hassan, Andrea Strenitz, Lorena Vega

There’s always been an interest in the movies towards the mental problems of the common people, wether be for comic or dramatic intentions, but it’s always been relegated to what you could call the ‘mainstream’, but there’s a recent surge of filmmakers and screenwriters from Latinamerica and particularly from Argentina that are giving the mental health issue a spin on its own, using most of the time male characters that seem to be enclosed inside of their minds and with the possibility of getting out somehow, either be through some happenstance or someone in particular. It’s a nice and interesting trend because of what is capable of, yet it could also end up being a cliché in itself, or use other kind of clichés that are common in the latinamerican cinema and that someone should always avoid at all times. I think that Latinamerican cinema is going into an important phase in these years, it’s important to notice certain difficult trends that do not help the films that we do actually make a positive impression in those who watch it and on international/national audiences/distributors. There’s a new kind of cinema that is being birthed in all countries in this sub-continent, that’s the generation of those who studied film because they wanted, people who came from specific schools of thought and craft, hence the homogeneous look of certain filmographies, that don’t attain to a particular aesthetic that is in kindship to the social problems of a country, but to the taste and likings of the people who are teaching the craft and the way to tell the stories.

And I think that one of the particular issues that damage the cinema of Latinamerica is exactly that: it’s lack of approach towards the social issues that the people are going through, the fact that we are in a land that is called South America should be quite telling of our position in the world and how our art will be looked at, it is important that our stories, our films, have some kind of connection to the main issues that we commonly have as a continent or as a country in particular, or even as a city if we go even more specific. I think that’s the main problem that makes ‘La Paz’ a film that could’ve been so much better if it didn’t sleep in the commodity of its own class that it was made in, with no particular insight towards what it means and what it does to the viewer that finally is inflicted with the images and ideas that are contained inside of these particular 73 minutes of film. The movie tells the story of a young man that has just got out of a mental institution and he has to go back to his family, mother and father, who are in a situation that could be called ‘high society’, where he has access to everything that he wants and even the lack of touch and feel that his parents put forward to him is a classic trait of the minds and attitudes of the people who are lucky enough to have more money than most people, now while I’m being critical to the state of the class and to how it could be the reason behind the illness of our protagonist, the film never explores that possibility, it goes into a selfish route of self-fullfilment and curation, with something akin to a road movie where our protagonist has to pass certain stages to achieve what he could call Nirvana.

The most mean spirited thing about the film is how that fullfilment is given not by asuming his position in society and criticizing it, but maintaining a sense of partnership or superiority towards less fortunate people in the social scale, the name of the film doesn’t refer to the peace that the character is trying to achieve, but it actually refers to the capitol city of Bolivia, La Paz, where our character ends up teaching poor kids how to do math, and hence he finds, through the charity work, his mental piece. As if the social guilt could only be cured through a reaffirmation of its position towards the other people that he thinks are under him or just less fortunate or simply not as good as him, so he just turns to them with help and a way of being closer to (but not quite like) him. This is enforced through a Bolivian nanny that appears and seems to be the only normal relation that our protagonist has, but that is never fully explored until we understand the impact that she made in his mind when he decides to travel to Bolivia. Besides all the beef that I have with the social aspect of the movie, I still think that its a movie that you could watch if its a lazy afternoon, it lets you reflect on all the things that I’ve said and much more, it’s a competent piece of filmmaking from a director that has a great career in the Argentinian film industry, with more than 5 pictures directed by him. This film played in the Argentinian competition at Bafici and it won its major prize, and it also played recently in SANFIC under the ‘Experiences’ tab that shows the latest films from major directors of all over the world.

7/10

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