The boy-meets-girl format is given depth and interest in “Like a Crashed Plane,” an engaging, minor-key tale of teenage dislocation whose stylistic flaws are easily outweighed by its good intentions and craft. Like Ezequiel Acuna’s debut “Swimming Alone,” pic focuses on the disaffections of middle-class kids and builds up a good head of emotional steam through a clutch of solid perfs, a stripped-back script and a keen eye for emotional truth. “Plane” took the film prize in the Argentinean section at the recent Buenos Aires fest, but lacks the distinctiveness of much of the country’s recent high-profile product that would enable it to fly high internationally.
Gauche, mumbling Nico (Ignacio Rogers) works in a veterinary clinic run by domineering brother Fran (Carlos Echevarria), their parents having died in a plane crash. When Nico sees gardening student Luchi (Manuela Martelli) making a phone call, he becomes obsessed, and when she comes to have her pet rabbit operated on, he awkwardly attempts to try to win her over. Just when things seem about to take off, Luchi delivers the bad news that she’s leaving for Switzerland. Nico’s ne’er-do-well buddy Santi (Santiago Pedrero) offers Nico advice about how to make it work with Luchi while himself stealing CD’s and pills from his mother.
The largely clever script exploits the relationships to the fullest, with characters yearning for emotional ties that their circumstances make impossible. Nico’s obsession with Luchi comes across less as romance than an attempt to save himself from inevitable moral decline.
Thesps are well-suited to their roles, though Martelli’s Luchi, who continually talks to her rabbit, is too cutesy for comfort. The possibility that Santi’s aggressiveness might lose aud sympathy is tempered by his obvious concern for his friend’s welfare even as he himself is losing it. Rogers does well to find nuances in the apparently brain-dead Nico.
Helmer relies too much on soap-ish slow motion and on a pop music soundtrack; a couple of the songs are fine, but others are dreadfuland damage the film.
Lensing is fine, although hand-held docu-style moves are overdone.