The free-and-easy nature of young Chilean cinema receives its coolest calling card yet with Che Sandoval’s “You Think You’re the Prettiest (But You’re the Sluttiest).” The title more or less says it all, given pic’s combined concerns — young guys’ 24-7 obsessions with girls and sex, and their tendency toward verbal diarrhea — centering around one terribly flawed hero’s inability to land the ideal g.f. Nicely repping Santiago’s punk-tinged indie filmmaking tendencies, the film is starting to make its way on the international fest circuit and may even score a few distrib dates. Pic opens on local urban screens April 29.
With this thesis film for the Escuela de Cine de Chile, Sandoval displays a knack for making it look easy — a style in tandem with his characters’ loose, improvised attitude, even as it conceals a knot of insecurities and jealousies. The script is structured like a Victorian serial novel with absurdly florid chapter titles (sample: “Javier and the Possibility that Nicolas’ New Neighbor Falls in Love With Him”), as it relentlessly tracks Javier (Martin Castillo) in his quest for a roll in the sack with that new neighbor, Valentina (Camila Le-Bert).
Like his pal, muralist Nicolas (Francisco Braithwaite), Javier is an artist; the difference is that Nicolas is a smooth operator with the ladies. It’s bad enough that Nicolas is now seeing Javier’s ex-g.f., Francisca (Andrea Riquelme). But soon after Javier chats up Valentina and trades favorite CDs with her as a means of keeping in touch — and thesps Castillo and Le-Bert generate just the chemistry to ignite a spark — she’s hanging around Nicolas and the street mural he’s creating.
Compounding his problems, Javier tends to have premature orgasms, and then talks about them. In desperation, he tries to convince Francisca to sleep with him so he can calm down enough to have satisfying sex with Valentina. Between this and a hilariously protracted barroom scene between the loquacious Javier and a nameless buddy (Sebastian Brahm), one sees a guy’s sense of youth dying before his eyes; it’s the stuff of bitterly tinged comedy.
Sandoval has yet to develop a strong eye for arranging images and actors onscreen, but his filmmaking also seems liberated from any dominant aesthetic or style, infusing his movie with unfettered pleasure. Joined by his game actors, from the compulsively watchable Castillo and the wily Braithwaite to Grimanesa Jimenez in a small but indelible role as a wise hooker, Sandoval displays an ear for the way people talk, yet with a soupcon of exaggeration.
Production package is ultra-indie and utilitarian, which is just fine under the circumstances.