Review: ‘Gemini’

Albertina Carri's "Gemini," which unveils the horrors beneath the surface of an Argentinean bourgeois family, might have been called "Argentinean Beauty." Not one to shirk from family tragedies, helmer returns here to the emotional frontlines to mixed effect. Slickly-put together item should manage the odd theatrical pickup, particularly in Hispanic territories.

Albertina Carri’s “Gemini,” which unveils the horrors beneath the surface of an Argentinean bourgeois family, might have been called “Argentinean Beauty.” Not one to shirk from family tragedies — her “The Blonds” dealt with the disappearance of her parents allegedly masterminded by the Argentinean authorities — helmer returns here to the emotional frontlines to mixed effect. Somewhat chilly pic looks unfailingly good, keeps the tension bubbling and comes to a hauntingly powerful climax, but it lacks new insights and tends to be over-schematic in getting its point over. Slickly-put together item should manage the odd theatrical pickup, particularly in Hispanic territories.

Set during a family gathering prior to the wedding of Daniel (Daniel Fanego), which is presided over by motor mouth mother Lucia (Cristina Banegas, doing a fine job in all registers), the early scenes cleverly but coyly show Lucia’s other two children, sullen Meme (Maria Abadi) and good-looking, blonde deadhead Jere (Lucas Escariz), having conversations and arguments that suggest their relationship is more than traditionally familial. Suspicions are confirmed in a passionate scene between them on the nightclub stairs.

The viewer figures things out long before Daniel, however, who comes across Meme and Jere going at it late at night and goes absolutely wild, telling Jere that their mom must never find out. This increases the tension , but the planting of the big will-she/won’t she find out question sacrifices any subtlety for the rest of the film .

Only two characters generate much sympathy — Lucia, the lively matriarch whose kids have somehow slipped her grasp, and housemaid Olga (Silvia Bayle), whom Lucia pities .

Though it is admirable that the script sidesteps sensationalistic psychology, there is not a single moment of self-reflection from either of the damaged siblings to offer some plausible reason for their behavior, although the watchable Abadi tries to explore some of the finer nuances.

The idle chit-chat of the upper-middle classes and the portrayal of the languid rhythms of their lives generate some witty, if deja vu, satire. But when all the repressed emotion does finally emerge, it does so in a volcanic, painfully feral scene . Lensing manages to suffuse the rural summer afternoons with an appropriately fragile-feeling atmosphere, and other tech credits are fine.

Gemini

Argentina-France

Production

A Matanza Cine/Slot Machine production. (International sales: Pyramide Distribution, Paris). Produced by Pablo Trapero, Barry Ellsworth. Executive producers, Martina Gusman, Hugo Castro Fau. Directed by Albertina Carri. Screenplay, Carri, Santiago Girarlt.

Crew

Camera (color), Guillermo Nieto; editor, Rosario Suarez; music, Edgardo Rudnitzsky; art director, Maria Eugenia Sueiro; sound (Dolby Digital), Jesica Suarez. Reviewed at Buenos Aires Film Festival (Special Screenings), April 21, 2005. (Also in Cannes Film Festival -- Directors Fortnight.) Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Cristina Banegas, Daniel Fanego, Maria Abadi, Lucas Escariz, Julieta Zylberberg, Silvia Bayle.

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