×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Student

Santiago Mitre's "The Student" is a taut, incisive look at university wheeling and dealing.

With:
With: Esteban Lamothe, Romina Paula, Ricardo Felix, Valeria Correa, Esteban Bigliardi.

Politics makes for bedfellows, strange and otherwise, in Santiago Mitre’s “The Student,” a taut, incisive look at university wheeling and dealing. Providing an excellent platform for the subtle acting talents of rising young star Esteban Lamothe as an apathetic collegian-turned-crafty operative, pic is most acutely a metaphor for Argentine political machinations, though so universal in its general themes that it should connect with auds on the global fest circuit. On the commercial hustings, the campaign might be tougher, but not impossible, especially among the reliable base of Euro arthouse supporters.

Like a young Werther arriving in a world of sophisticates, Roque (Lamothe) leaves his provincial hometown and casual g.f. for the U. of Buenos Aires, where he finds the atmosphere rich with inscrutable (to nonlocals) slogans, and students riled up by political parties (an aspect of Argentine student affairs) and passionate organizers like teacher assistant Paula (Romina Paula) trying to foment reform.

Since Paula is kind of cute, Roque isn’t initially attracted by what he hears, but rather by what he sees. Mitre and the camera unit of Gustavo Biazzi, Soledad Rodriguez, Federico Cantini and Alejo Maglio understand this crucial dichotomy, allowing the viewer to absorb Roque’s point of view through tight, telephoto framings redolent with desire and uncertainty. Once drawn in, however, and having shared relations (this is one dude who moves fast with the ladies), he’s lured into the university’s vivid political realm.

The discussion that follows may be a first for Argentine cinema: a sometimes dialectical conversation between an older generation of Peronists who suffered in the 1970s “dirty war,” and the younger generation, also leftist, but far more skeptical of the Peronist populist tradition. Though moments may not completely translate to non-Argentine auds, screenwriter Mitre (who scripted previously for helmer Pablo Trapero) takes pains to make the import universal.

Indeed, as Roque rises through the ranks of his chosen university political party, and is befriended by professor and veteran pol Acevedo (Ricardo Felix, in a nicely subdued performance), the lad’s bitter experience with realpolitik’s culture of horse-trading becomes all too familiar, and eventually makes “The Student” less intriguing than it started out to be.

Eager to put aside his everyday studies for the sexier climes of elections and coalition-building, Roque willingly becomes Acevedo’s go-to guy for party deals and event organizing. It hardly surprises, then, when the young man realizes that students are being exploited by the wily vets, and that Acevedo is more than willing to make a secret alliance when it suits his own needs.

Roque’s final response to Acevedo’s latest offer is the film’s worst dramatic mistake, but doesn’t deflate the pic’s overall impact as a credible depiction of student life today in Argentina.

Lamothe, frequently adopting a poker face, which adds to Roque’s appeal, dominates the drama from opening frames to finish. Pic’s sense of place and intensifying mood, so crucial to the narrative, are effectively supported by key production elements like Los Natas’ strong score and designer Micaela Saiegh’s creation of a cutthroat university world.

Popular on Variety

The Student

Argentina

Production: A La Union de los Rios/Pasto Cine/El Pampero Cine presentation. Produced by Agustina Llambi Campbell, Santiago Mitre, Fernando Brom. Directed, written by Santiago Mitre.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Gustavo Biazzi, Soledad Rodriguez, Federico Cantini, Alejo Maglio; editor, Delfina Castagnino; music, Los Natas; production designer, Micaela Saiegh; sound (stereo), Federico Esquerro, Santiago Fumagalli; sound re-recording mixer, Roberto Migone; line producer, Ezequiel Pierri; assistant director, Laura Citarella. Reviewed at Buenos Aires Film Festival (competing), April 12, 2011. Running time: 124 MIN.

Cast: With: Esteban Lamothe, Romina Paula, Ricardo Felix, Valeria Correa, Esteban Bigliardi.

More Scene

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Charlize Theron speaks at the GEANCO

    Charlize Theron Talks 'White Privilege,' Growing Up During Apartheid in South Africa

    Charlize Theron, during an onstage discussion with her “Gringo” costar David Oyelowo about philanthropy at Thursday’s annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO, said she was a beneficiary of “white privilege” while growing up in Apartheid-torn South Africa. “I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege,” Theron said [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content