Mittwoch, 8. Oktober 2014

Filmfest Hamburg: Club Sándwich

Mexican writer/director Fernando Eimbcke's mother-son relationship dramedy "Club Sándwich" feels like a short film not only because it barely squeezes past the 80-minute mark, but also because of the singularity of its focus and the intimacy of its setting. The logistical limitations notwithstanding, it's hard not to be charmed by something which stokes such genuine emotions with empathy, humor and sweetness to spare.

Smartly choosing a holiday resort in off-season as location, there's a strong sense of place to the movie. Whether tanning by the pool or having room service in their beds, you're keenly aware of the isolation of these two vacationers, stranded in a paradise of brilliant boredom with only the company of the other. And while the mom is having the time of her life spending day and night with her favorite guy, you get the idea the milky, chubby son just hitting puberty is getting restless underneath his still babyishly perfect skin. Everything changes, of course, when the girl enters the picture.

Like a coming-of-age story told from dual perspectives, this film is as much about the boy's discovery of sexuality and independence as about his mother's devastating realization that they'll soon be two instead of one. Written with an observant eye and great sympathy at heart, the screenplay is peppered with authentic, adorable details first establishing the well-oiled, self-sustaining partnership of this single-parent-only-child duo, then cracking that exclusive bond ever wider open with the arrival of the pretty young thing. A game of punishment late in the film where the older woman tries with infantile desperation to yank the attention of her son away from this other, suddenly infinitely more interesting person is so endearingly pathetic you can hardly bear to watch.

Lucio Giménez Cacho plays the teenager on the cusp of adulthood with appropriate impassivity. It's the occasional little gestures of curiosity or rapture that betray the hormones at work behind that mask of cool nonchalance. María Renée Prudencio is very affecting as the jealous-turned-despairing mother unprepared to watch her most prized possession drift away. A scene near the end where she goes to buy chips by herself will probably break the heart of every mom in the world.

Altogether the movie still gives the impression of being slight and unfinished, but as a yearnful, melancholic mood piece it is really quite lovely.

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