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Circuit

The morally vacuous "Circuit" aims to show that the fashion industry is full of people who are not mere objects, but who love and lose like the rest of us.

The morally vacuous “Circuit” aims to show that the fashion industry is full of people who are not mere objects, but who love and lose like the rest of us. Ironically, it then drowns its characters in the kind of self-regarding, ostentatious aestheticism that objectifies them and robs them of expressive power. Once you get past this confused act of self-sabotage, the result is a visually interesting throwback to the days when the pop-video aesthetic was king, along with some great music and little else. Occasional fest slots are pic’s likeliest destination.

Fashion photographer Vic (Vincent Martinez), the picture of stubble-chinned intensity, is abandoned by his American model wife, Ana (Sophie Auster, daughter of scribe Paul), and decides to go traveling for 1,000 days. Before he can leave, Mia (Misia Mur) turns up at his studio seeking work. Just like that, Vic turns the business over to her during his absence. Mia later adopts a baby goose, which then follows her everywhere, suggesting that in the fashion world, it’s easier to communicate with a goose than with a human.

Romantically inclined Pere (Lazaro Mur), the brother of bike-race photographer Roman (Oscar Jaenada), and is thus indirectly part of the arts circuit himself. When Pere discovers that Eva (Michelle Jenner), a model he hasn’t seen in three years but has the hots for, is coming to Barcelona, he uses Ramon’s journalist credentials to engineer a meeting with her.

Pic’s constant movements back and forth in time take some unraveling and don’t always cohere. Lensing is striking but attention-seeking, as d.p. Julio Ribeyro uses urgent handheld camerawork, seeks out unusual angles, plays tricks with light and shadow and makes the most of some striking locations — from the spacious, jumbled interiors of Vic’s studio (Gemma Fauria’s art direction merits mention) or the surrealist wastelands of Barcelona’s port area.

The philosophical Vic tells Ana it’s more important to like people than to love them. But these characters prefer to hang out moodily rather than talk, and when they do talk, they can express only their confusion. Among the high-profile cast, only the reliable Jaenada has the presence and vibrance to cut through on a human level; the stylistic excesses firmly lock the others into poseur mode. Indeed, “Circuit” would have benefited from the same attention to character it affords its tech work.

Music draws on a range of sources, and works well, while the moody electronic sound work is equally impressive.

Circuit

Spain

Production: A Productora Amas production in association with TVC. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Gloria Morera, Xavier Ribera Perpina. Executive producer, Marivi de Villanueva. Directed, written by Xavier Ribera Perpina.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Julio Ribeyro; editor, Diego Carcoba, Ribera Perpina; music, Pedro Alcalde; art direction, Gemma Fauria; sound (Dolby Digital), Jonathan Darch, Pedro Alcalde, Jordi Juncadella. Reviewed at Malaga Spanish Film Festival (competing), April 23, 2010. Running time: 95 MIN. (Catalan, English dialogue)

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