After years of making films in Russia, Chilean helmer Sebastian Alarcon goes home for his latest social satire, but his hometown, Valparaiso, that’s captured here coexists in several time-frames simultaneously. A pixilated fable about art and selling out, which chronicles the corruption of an idealistic photographer, pic boasts “Pleasantville”-ish conceits and free-form anachronisms which paradoxically appear genteelly outdated. Likeably candy-colored comedy, however, might alight on indie or Spanish-language cable.
Our mustachioed shutterbug hero, who dreams of creating a revolutionary photo-novella, is costumed circa 1948, uses a ’50s camera, strolls by posters for the 1962 World Cup, and works in an office with a secretary typing on an old Underwood and a boss — shown in black-and-white — schmoozing on a cell phone. Chronological tropes also permit hoary old chestnuts — like having a bunch of layabout artists seduce their love-starved landlady into deferring the rent — to be trotted out in a way that defuses sexist implications. Daniel Munoz imbues lead role with William Powell-like charm, while heroine’s integrity is synonymous with her Audrey-Hepburn-on-a-Vespa head scarf. Ultimately, pic seems exiled from its own context.