Review: ‘January’

A psychological mood piece that feels as high-strung and ungrounded as its traumatized protag.

The emotional fallout for a composer after his girlfriend’s accident is the focus of “January,” a psychological mood piece that feels as high-strung and ungrounded as its traumatized protag. Failing to solve the problem of how to make spiritual lethargy dramatically interesting, pic follows the man from street to piano to bed, using a series of visual and aural tricks to communicate his mental state. But having chosen to ignore the basics of characterization and storytelling, debutante helmers Cynthia Gabrenja and Marcelo Scoccia offer little in their place. Limited play at edgier fests aside, a chilly reception seems likeliest.

Following a car crash that leaves his g.f. comatose, Ivan (Emiliano Portino) likewise enters a sort of coma, abandoning his piano until he’s approached by Katja (Flora Gro) who wants him to compose a requiem to her father. Ivan rarely speaks: He only truly comes alive when playing, which alas doesn’t happen until the pic’s last three minutes. Nicely rendered, intimate visuals and the odd elegant conceit — a single piano note mirroring the beeping of a life-support machine, for example — offer hope that the helmers will deliver superior work next time.

January

Argentina

Production

A Coming Soon, Rio Azul Films production. Produced, directed, written by Cynthia Gabrenja, Marcelo Scoccia. Screenplay, Francesco Bruni, Antonio Leotti, di Majo.

Crew

Camera (color), Guido Rodriguez Limardo; editor, Javier Kaplan; music, Leandro Barrales; art director, Endi Ruiz. Reviewed on DVD, Madrid, May 3, 2011. (In Buenos Aires Film Festival.) Running time: 71 MIN.

With

Emiliano Portino, Flora Gro, Alberto Rojas Apel, Josefina Recio, Vanina Montes.
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