Taking a sideways look at Argentina’s economic collapse and the food riots of December 2001, “One or the Other” is set in a rural town only marginally involved in the incidents in the city. Inserts of actual TV coverage are as close as first-time helmer Alejo Hernan Taube cares to get to those events, focusing instead on people on society’s fringes who fall in love while they struggle to get by. Well intentioned but not very exciting, film will need critical support to go beyond fest playdates. Pic won top prize in the new Argentine competition at the Buenos Aires fest.
Martin (Jorge Sesan) has made a little money passing on counterfeit coins, making him the cash-richest man in town. He’s interested in Pilar (Jimena Anganuzzi), a street-smart girl from a good family skidding into poverty. She seems to brush him off, but a powerful erotic undercurrent draws them back together. Their romance takes a backseat in a dramatic finale that feels a little out of place, in which Martin is involved in a police stakeout of the counterfeiters’ digs.
In the background is the everyday drama of unpaid bills, hungry babies and people’s first awkward attempts to join together to face the crisis. Ending, however, suggests that escape is the only way out. Pic’s naturalistic narrative and acting is echoed in the simple digital camerawork.