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Suicidals

Airless, joyless study of the hopeless, Juan Villega's "Suicidals" is clinically made budget fare whose heart has been crafted right out of existence. Featuring a central perf by Daniel Hendler ("Lost Embrace"), pic engages with its subject in the most under-dramatized manner. Fest auds might keep the pic's prospects alive.

With:
With: Daniel Hendler, Leonora Balcarce, Camila Toker, Elvira Villarino, Eugenia Alonso.

An airless, joyless study of the hopeless, Juan Villega’s “Suicidals” is clinically made budget fare whose heart has been crafted right out of existence. Featuring a central perf by Daniel Hendler (“Lost Embrace”), who drifts through things in an apparently post-suicidal condition, pic engages with its subject in the most under-dramatized manner, leaving it looking like an art school exercise in stripped-back style. Fest auds prepared to grapple with the concepts behind the overwhelming dramatic inertia might just keep the pic’s prospects alive.

Voiceover by irritatingly impassive, self-centered journalist Daniel (Hendler), who’s locked into a dissatisfying relationship with schoolteacher g.f. Julia (Camila Toker), informs viewers that his father committed suicide; indeed he seems to live life as though his own suicide were inevitable.

Assigned, along with moodily uncommunicative photographer Marcela (Leonora Balcarce), to an investigation of the supposed suicide of a wealthy businessman, Daniel sets about the job with the aim of understanding more about why people kill themselves. Responding to something dark inside her that he recognizes, Daniel and Marcela embark on an uneasy relationship, united by the idea of suicide.

Little of the potential psychological interest in the subject survives the journey to screen. The fact that the obviously troubled Marcela practically never opens her mouth to speak means that neither the viewer nor Daniel learns anything about her, so their relationship never sparks to life. The lengthy silences between them are empty, while close-ups of Daniel just thinking give no clue as to what is in his mind.

A range of opinions of the meaning of self-murder are trotted out, ranging from Durkheim to the thought-provoking opinion of a suicide prevention worker that the idea of valuing life is something not innate, but learned. Moments of gentle verbal humor do little to alleviate the general gloom. Guitar-based score, as low-key as everything else, is often attractive.

Suicidals

Argentina

Production: A TresmilmundosCine/Tresplanos production. (International sales: Film Sharks Intl., Buenos Aires). Produced by Juan Villegas. Executive producer, Nathalie Cabiron. Directed, written by Juan Villegas, based on a novel by Antonio de Benedetti.

Crew: Camera (color, super 16mm-35mm), Paola Rizzi; editor, Martin Mainoli; music, Guillermo Guareschi; art director, Aili Chen; sound (Dolby Digital), Federico Billordo. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi), Sept. 22, 2005. Running time: 80 MIN.

With: With: Daniel Hendler, Leonora Balcarce, Camila Toker, Elvira Villarino, Eugenia Alonso.

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