The simplest of stories — a girl goes back to her hometown and looks for a boy she once knew — is wedded to near-documentary technique by first-time director Celina Murga in “Ana and the Others.” Though admirably subtle, pic’s basic minimalism reveals a lack of ambition; taking few risks, it remains monotonously low-key. Murga’s gift for clear storytelling set against an unusual provincial background won pic a special jury prize at the recent Buenos Aires Film Festival, and should be the wave that washes it to foreign fest shores.
Ana (Camila Toker), a pretty blonde in her early 20s, returns to her native town of Parana after several years of living in Buenos Aires. Pleasant memories of childhood fuse with reunion scenes as she bumps into high school classmates and finds out who’s gotten married and who’s had kids. She’s courted by a nice boy she’s not interested in, and becomes fixated on finding her old boyfriend Mariano, who she learns is working on a newspaper in a small town.
It’s hard to get involved in her search, motivated by nothing more than stubbornness and pique at her ex’s rumored success with women. The final scenes are enlivened by the appearance of a peppy little boy who hitches a ride with Ana and offers a diversion.
Toker is an attractive if neutral container for Ana’s vague search for love and a life. Marcelo Lavintman and Jose Maria Gomez’s camerawork has an Iranian simplicity, framing the essential in service of no-frills narration.