December 12, 2017

Contenders in the International Competition

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Some Girls shining at BAFICI fest

Agustina Muñoz in a scene from Santiago Palavecino’s Algunas chicas.
Agustina Muñoz in a scene from Santiago Palavecino’s Algunas chicas.
Agustina Muñoz in a scene from Santiago Palavecino’s Algunas chicas.
By Pablo Suárez
For the Herald
“There’s some kind of female behaviour that I can see reflected in literature and cinema, and yet I find it so enigmatic in life that I felt I needed to film it. I’m most fascinated by that which is irreducibly female, that which also baffles us men. I think women inhabit both sadness and happiness in a manner that’s foreign to us, they reason and behave according to a different, unpredictable, zigzagging logic,” Argentine filmmaker Santiago Palavecino (Otra vuelta, La vida nueva) told the Herald about Algunas chicas (Some Girls), a strong contender running in the international competition of BAFICI, which had its more than auspicious world premiere at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

And yes, Algunas chicas is all about women. Loosely based on Italian writer Cesare Pavese’s Among Women Only, Palavecino’s third opus brilliantly examines female depression, seclusion, and suicidal tendencies. But, luckily, not from a clinical viewpoint — that would’ve been too easy to imagine. Instead, the angle here is existentialist, which makes the drama irresistibly volatile and deeply thought-provoking.

The story goes like this: Celina (Cecilia Rainero) flees from a marital crisis to a visit an old friend living in the countryside. But the panorama is far from welcoming: her friend’s stepdaughter, Paula (Agostina López), has had a suicide attempt and is trying (not very successfully) to overcome her depression. Such news trigger unexpected, obscure memories that Cecilia won’t share with anyone, least of all Paula’s off-beat friends, Nene (Ailín Salas), who’s a bit of a psychic, and the well-to-do María (Agustina Muñoz), a nihilist per definition. And there are the small town and the woods, both of them ominous and undecipherable.

One chief asset is how Palavecino’s typical elliptical narrative works wonders here. Depression goes beyond words and cannot be really discussed. Some of these women are such islands onto themselves that expressing their most intimate feelings is a true tour de force.

So instead, there are the moods, the atmosphere of utter despair and gloom, and the erratic behaviour; the huge silences, the secrecy, and the small talk — the only possible kind of talk.

Perhaps the main thing is that Palavecino couldn’t care less for answers. For one thing, he doesn’t have them. Neither do the characters. What matters here are the questions, what’s left unsaid, what cannot be grasped.

Even if the Algunas chicas begins on a somewhat realistic note, soon enough a surreal, dream-like air permeates it all as the inner selves of these girls surface and invade the scene – the dream sequences with the swimming pool, and the woods’ sequence with an unknown animal (is it an animal?) are gorgeously shot and particularly eerie.

Incidentally, the supernatural element is never presented as such. It’s just there; it’s probably been there for ages. Like the girls’ pain.

When and where

Wednesday, April 9, at 5pm at Village Recoleta 6.


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