Review: ‘A Shadow You Soon Will Be’

Veteran helmer Hector Olivera's lonesome road movie set in the southern pampas of Argentina, "A Shadow You Soon Will Be," metaphorically describes a pervasive feeling of emptiness and desolation in the years following the end of military rule in 1983. Gently amusing and specifically Argentine, it will probably hover on the fringes of the international fest and art-film circuit, winning over limited auds with its honesty and charm.

Veteran helmer Hector Olivera’s lonesome road movie set in the southern pampas of Argentina, “A Shadow You Soon Will Be,” metaphorically describes a pervasive feeling of emptiness and desolation in the years following the end of military rule in 1983. Gently amusing and specifically Argentine, it will probably hover on the fringes of the international fest and art-film circuit, winning over limited auds with its honesty and charm.

A man in his 40s known only as “the engineer” (Miguel Angel Sola) has just returned from Europe, where he lived in exile during the long military dictatorship. Bereft of family and friends, he travels with nothing but the clothes on his back. Claiming to be a computer expert on his way to a job in the south, he wanders aimlessly through the flat, deserted but magical countryside, where railway tracks end in the middle of the pampas and only a few antique cars roll down an endless highway.

On the road, in motels and ghost towns, he meets eccentrics like himself who become momentary traveling companions. He has a comic fling with a buxom, gun-toting medium, Nadia (Alicia Bruzzo). He gets a ride in a Rolls with a mysterious millionaire, Lem (Eusebio Poncela). He befriends Barrante (a touching perf by Luis Brandoni), a vagabond who earns his bread hosing down farm laborers with a portable shower.

Most interesting character is Coluccini (Pepe Soriano), a former circus owner who has gone broke. He involves the hero in a rigged card game that backfires. Soriano’s perf as the shyster with a heart of gold is reminiscent of a character out of a Fellini film.

Based on a 1990 novel by Osvaldo Soriano, who co-scripted, the story ends where it begins. Argentina is shown as a broken-down country with no future in sight and no memory of the years of bloody repression that have recently ended.

Felix Monti’s masterful lensing has a simple, pleasant clarity. In the main role, Sola is a cool guy who watches the world go by with restrained indignation and some amusement — which are more or less the feelings this good-natured, unsentimental pic communicates to its audience.

A Shadow You Soon Will Be

(ARGENTINE)

Production

A Hector Olivera/Tercer Milenio, Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia production. (International sales: Aries Cinematografica, Buenos Aires.) Produced by FernandoAyala. Directed by Hector Olivera. Screenplay, Olivera, Osvaldo Soriano, based on Soriano's novel.

Crew

Camera (color) Felix Monti; editor, Eduardo Lopez; music, Osvaldo Montes; art direction, Emilio Basaldua; costume design, Margarita Jusid; sound (Dolby), Jorge Stavropulos. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 10, 1994. (Also in Toronto fest.) Running time: 105 MIN.

With

The Engineer ... Miguel Angel Sola Coluccini ... Pepe Soriano Nadia ... Alicia Bruzzo Lem ... Eusebio Poncela Barrante ... Luis Brandoni Boris ...Diego Torres Rita ... Gloria Carra
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