Reviews for September 2nd, 2009
Directed by Lisandro Alonso.
In Spanish with subtitles. Farrel (Juan Fernandez), a lonely sailor, asks the captain of his freighter to let him off in the port of Ushuala, Argentina, so that he can travel to his birthplace, a small town where his mother resides. Since he doesn’t have his own means of transportation, he waits for someone to offer him a ride toward his seemingly far away destination. You’ll often find him either drinking heavily, eating or just resting, but he very rarely talks at all to anyone. What’s actually going on inside his head throughout the journey? Will anything surprising happen to him all-of-sudden along the way? What’s the significance of the title “Liverpool” for that matter? Will Farrel ever open up emotionally to the audience or to anyone onscreen for that matter? Writer/director Lisandro Alonso doesn’t provide easy answers for any of these questions and puts the burden on the viewer to decipher not only meaning from the ultra-minimal, elliptical plot but to grasp the character development as well. You’ll find yourself watching many static shots with snowy scenery and a very somber, pensive atmosphere that reflects Farrel’s feelings of loneliness and mundane experiences. On the surface, he’s just moving along through his ho-hum life while alienated from those around him. Deep down inside him, though, there are innate frustrations and regrets that he has bottled up for some reason. Throughout the many quiet scenes, there’s a foreboding sense that some kind of tragic event might occur. Almost every scene could be paused and then observed as if it were a painting. Audiences who aren’t accustomed to unconventional narratives that throw traditional plot and character development out the window would probably find the film to be too demanding and meandering as a whole while the sluggish pace and lack of palpable thrills would be excruciatingly dull. However, patient viewers will be concurrently fascinated and captivated by the stark naturalism, subtleties, attention to detail along with the very atmospheric, oddly haunting visuals. Number of times I checked my watch: 2 Opens at the Anthology Film Archives.