March 29, 2017
Thursday, February 13, 2014

Theatre meets cinema to fruitless effect

A scene from Los desechables.
A scene from Los desechables.
By Pablo Suárez
For the Herald
The recently released Los dese-chables, the debut film of Argentine filmmaker Nicolás Savignone, is based on the theatre rehearsals conducted by Andrea Garrote, in which the director and the actors began working with the embryo of the project. It was then expanded, new material and characters were added, and thus it became a film. Clearly, it is meant to some kind of exploration on the frontiers and crossovers between the languages of theatre and cinema. Some sort of new take on well trod territory.

Los desechables is about three somewhat close friends who one day show up at work and learn they are suspected of embezzlement, to the point of leading the company they work for to bankruptcy. In parallel, each of them has his own story concerning other things: love affairs, family matters, and unexpected news. One thing leads to another, and soon they are all confronting one another as to discover who the embezzler is. In turn, queries of a more personal subject matters arise.

The acting and the dialogue make Savignone’s film an appealing feature . The group of talented thespians do strike the right notes with each gesture and delivery. Even if not all of them excel at all times, the overall effect is indeed compelling. As regards the dialogue, for the most part it sounds believable and unpretentious for these characters talk pretty much as real people would talk in real life in these circumstances. So far, so good.

But when it comes to many other important aspects, the scenario is far from satisfying. For starters, there’s the mise en scene. To be austere and minimalistic is one thing, but to be flat and uninspired is an altogether different notion. Even within a very low budget, a visual look and a sense of space that say something about what’s being told is a must. One can only think the filmmaker wanted to go for a “less is more” approach, and failed to fully understand the concept. So expect photography, almost nonexistent art direction, and mediocre camerawork.

But what’s most indefensible is the nearly total absence of a solid story and the corresponding pathos. Instead, you get an assortment of medium-length scenes that go nowhere too often. Granted, the characters do voice out their conflicts and engage into endless arguments, but from a narrative point of view that doesn’t necessarily mean that the conflicts really exist and have a weight of their own. I mean, here they are exposed verbally (and only to a certain extent) but they are not turned into actions, occurrences, episodes, or even anecdotes. Los desechables has a very unfocused, flimsy script that has almost nothing much to express —and to think that some twelve people were involved in writing it.

And when it comes to the relationships it aims to establish between theatre and cinema, the huge problem to even care about them is that this is neither good theatre nor interesting cinema by a long shot.

Production notes

Los desechables (Argentina, 2012) Directed by Nicolás Savignone. With: Maida Andrenacci, Francisco Benvenuti, Miguel Bianchi, Mario Bodega, Ariel Bottor, Nacho Bozolo, Jazmín Cañete, Laila Duschatzky, Mariela Finkelstein, Sonia Martínez, Demián Salomón. Produced by Carla Secco and Nicolás Savignone. Running time: 60 minutes. Script: Nicolás Savignone, with the collaboration of Maida Andrenacci, Francisco Benvenuti, Miguel Bianchi, Mario Bodega, Ariel Bottor, Nacho Bozolo, Jazmín Cañete, Laila Duschatzky, Mariela Finkelstein, Sonia Martínez, Demián Salomón. Cinematography: Luis Andrade. Sound design: Marcos Zoppi, Joaquín Serpe. Editing: Rafka Timofeyeb.

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