A teenage orphan goes searching for her long-lost father and instead finds an older man yearning for someone to care for in sophomore helmer Gabriel Velazquez’s solid but uninvolving "Amateurs."

A teenage orphan goes searching for her long-lost father and instead finds an older man yearning for someone to care for in sophomore helmer Gabriel Velazquez’s solid but uninvolving “Amateurs.” Another feature excessively fond of lurking in doorframes, the pic has an intriguing story but the leads aren’t given enough background material to make them sufficiently sympathetic, or interesting, to carry the narrative. Though Spanish-lingo fests may take a look, “Amateurs” could be a piece of relative juvenilia from an up-and-coming director who goes on to better things.

When her mother dies, track maven Blanca (Emilie de Preissac), 16, enters a Marseilles orphanage, but soon heads to Spain to find her father. She meets Nieves (Paco Luque), an ornery construction foreman in failing health who takes an instant shine to the volatile girl and offers to take her in. Pressured to retire, Nieves quickly develops a parental bond with the girl that reveals his need for companionship. Blanca, however, is like an irrational puppy, all dumb will and not easily tamed by the controlling older man. Velazquez, co-helmer on the superior “Sud Express,” is overly fond of washed-out colors.

Amateurs

Spain

Production

A Karma Films release (in Spain) of an Escorado Produccion production. Produced, directed by Gabriel Velazquez. Screenplay, Blanca Torres, Velazquez.

Crew

Camera (color), David Azcano; editor, Maria Lara; music, Pablo Crespo, Marieta Vazquez; production designer, Claudia Gonzalez. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi), Sept. 20, 2008. Spanish, French dialogue. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Emilie de Preissac, Paco Luque, Alberto Diaz, Juanma Hernandez.

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