An engaging study of a couple in crisis living on the Buenos Aires Delta, "The Stones" is minimalist to a fault.

A study of a couple in crisis living on the Buenos Aires Delta, “The Stones” is minimalist to a fault. Strikingly framed visuals and the interplay between sound and silence rep its strong points, but pic is equally spare in its approach to dramatic tension; there isn’t any. Interesting in form but dull in content, pic tackles the popular theme of alienation without delivering anything new. Nonetheless, there’s enough here to suggest debutante helmer Roman Cardenas will do good work when he starts focusing on real people rather than abstractions.

An unnamed twentysomething man (helmer Cardenas) and woman (Mariana Padial) live in an idyllic riverside house, barely speaking. She’s a fumigation company clerk; he’s a blocked writer who splits his time between rowing his kayak and lying in bed. When the refrigerator breaks down, it’s a major event. The camera implacably records the disintegration of a relationship between two people about whom the script has revealed nothing, for whom the aud cannot care. But the atmosphere of melancholy and inertia hanging over their decline, punctuated by moments of comic surrealism, is well captured.

The Stones

Argentina

Production

A La Flor del Fango, Minerva M production. (International sales: La Flor del Fango, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Roman Cardenas. Executive producers, Lucila Castellanos, Florencia Iwabuti, Jimena Plazas. Directed, written by Roman Cardenas.

Crew

Camera (color), Victoria Deluca; editor, Leandro Aste. Reviewed on DVD, Madrid, May 7, 2011. (In Buenos Aires Film Festival -- Panorama.) Running time: 73 MIN.

With

Roman Cardenas, Mariana Padial, Nicolas Bellati, Josefina Luchessi.

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