It’s been described as a film about nothing, which will trigger comparisons to “Seinfeld.” It’s also shot in black-and-white static compositions and pitched to a dryer-than-dry comic tone, raising the name of Jim Jarmusch.
But those are American references. Fernando Eimbcke’s debut feature, “Duck Season,” is a Mexican film with no real precedent in Mexico. “I wanted to go for a deadpan style,” says Eimbcke by phone from Mexico City, “but there’s nothing like deadpan comedy here. You know, I searched on the Web for a Spanish word equivalent for ‘deadpan,’ and it doesn’t exist.”
The combination of two teen boys killing time at home playing videogames, a neighbor dropping by to bake a cake and a tardy pizza delivery guy sounds like, well, nada. But with the simplest of ingredients, Eimbcke gradually reveals characters who shift in unpredictable directions and who tap into emotions they didn’t even know were there.
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Eimbcke, being the new kid on the block in the Mexican film community, says he’s a little dazzled by the accolades his seemingly modest film has gathered, from the Fipresci jury prize for best Mexican film at the Guadalajara festival and the grand jury prize at AFI fest in Los Angeles, to “Y tu mama tambien” director Alfonso Cuaron declaring it “the Mexican film of the year.”
This from a filmmaker whose first scripts were roundly rejected by his producer, Christian Valdelievre, and whose previous credits are a few film student shorts, musicvideos for roc en espanol bands and a 2002 short, “Weightwatch,” that Eimbcke terms “silly.”
With “Duck Season,” his first feature, the helmer set to make a deadpan comedic pic in the vein of Aki Kaurismaki’s work, but found his actors weren’t quite ready for it.
“They first played their scenes in a happy mood,” he says. “I told them that their characters aren’t happy. Moko (Diego Catano), for example, is angry at his parents for wanting to divorce. I think we found an escape from melodrama making this film, which is fine, since there’s too much melodrama in Mexico. I must fight this tendency myself, because I’ll go melodramatic if I’m not careful.”
Where Eimbcke’s new untitled screenplay is going, he has no idea: “I’m very happy waking up each morning and having this to work on, but I can’t say if this will be a comedy, a drama or something else. I’ll know as I write it.”