You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


In its quiet, modest way, Chilean actor-turned-actor/director Pablo Cerda's stunningly composed debut feature mines unexpected depths in its portrait of a man who lets life pass him by.

With: Pablo Cerda, Tomas Vidiella, Rodrigo Soto, Carmen Fillol, Francisca Lewin.

In its quiet, modest way, Chilean actor-turned-actor/director Pablo Cerda’s stunningly composed debut feature mines unexpected depths in its portrait of a man who lets life pass him by. Sporting a beer belly developed for the role, Cerda portrays Exequiel, a 32-year-old gym teacher living with his father in his childhood home and teaching at the school he attended as a kid, seemingly content with his circumscribed existence. In observing his character’s unchanging everyday activities through changing perspectives, Cerda develops a nuanced visual language that supplants narrative. Never boring, “P.E.” nevertheless will require strong critical support to pique international arthouse interest.

Exequiel’s slow, laid-back style extends to every aspect of his movement. He sits down and watches his little students running laps, exerting himself occasionally to push them to greater effort. He engages them in basketball, his sole passion, and one which his students fail to fully appreciate. But even at work he appears solitary, the camera often catching him after school as he picks up the balls strewn around the court before lumbering homeward. He shares dinners at home and lunches in town with his father (Tomas Vidiella), with whom he enjoys a close friendship. Finally, at day’s end, Exequiel clambers onto his dad’s bed to watch TV.

Exequiel and his best (and seemingly only) friend, the extroverted Fabian (Rodrigo Soto), dress in hard hats and orange vests, and hang around the water watching the ships at night. Cerda set the film in his hometown, the port city of San Antonio, where shots of boats in the bay under harbor lights, or floating on the shimmering ocean against the breaking dawn, set a contemplative mood.

Having failed to become a professional basketball player, Exequiel doggedly refuses to think about past or future, ignoring opportunities his sister Carmen (Carmen Fillol) sends his way, spending big chunks of his time shooting hoops on a deserted outdoor court. These long, solitary moments constitute the film’s leitmotif: With Cerda’s contemplative thesping, and lenser Jorge Gonzalez’s control of angle and lighting, the rhythm of the ball’s bounce and the energy behind the throws becomes a nuanced gauge of Exequiel’s state of mind.

Though Cerda figures in virtually every shot, he rarely opts to frame himself in closeup, instead choosing long and medium shots that define his character in relationship to his surroundings. Thus a long scene in which a solitary Exequiel eats a large, messy sandwich at a table in a featureless restaurant conveys a strong sense of his self-absorbed concentration on the moment.

A reconnection with Emiliana (Francisca Lewin), a high-school sweetheart, awakens him to possibilities for change he has consistently ignored, briefly transforming him into someone with a purpose. But evolved beyond his mindless acceptance of his lot and denied his comforting rituals, socialization could prove a mixed blessing.

Accomplished production values, particularly Gonzalez’s impressive lensing, belie the pic’s reported $40,000 budget.



Production: A La Nena release and production. Produced by Pablo Cerda, Carolina Soltmann. Executive producer, Patricio Cerda. Directed by Pablo Cerda. Screenplay, Pablo Cerda, Rene Martin.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Jorge Gonzalez; editor, Sebastian Arriagada; music, Diego Lorenzini; production designer, Marcela Urivi; sound, Sebastian Navarro; sound designer, Cristian Mascaro. Reviewed at Latinbeat, New York, Aug. 16, 2012. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Pablo Cerda, Tomas Vidiella, Rodrigo Soto, Carmen Fillol, Francisca Lewin.

More Film

  • Echo in the Canyon review

    Film Review: ‘Echo in the Canyon’

    Arguably the most sturdily crafted and entertainingly anecdotal documentary of its kind since Denny Tedesco’s “The Wrecking Crew,” a similarly nostalgic celebration of artists who generously contributed to the soundtrack of the baby boomer generation, Andrew Slater’s “Echo in the Canyon” offers a richly evocative and star-studded overview of the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene. [...]

  • Alain Berliner To Direct Cannes-Set ‘Second

    ‘Ma Vie en Rose’s’ Alain Berliner Directs Star Cast in ‘Second to Nun’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Page Three Media and Artemis Productions, which backed “The Danish Girl,” announced in Cannes “Second to Nun,” a new feature from Golden Globe winning director Alain Berliner. Berliner’s decades-ahead-of-its-time “Ma Vie en Rose,” the tale of a young transgender girl with dreams of growing into a mature woman and marrying the boy next door, was [...]

  • Artist Andrew Levitas Tackles Corporate Greed

    Artist Andrew Levitas Tackles Corporate Greed in Johnny Depp Starring 'Minamata'

    Andrew Levitas has carved out a unique place in the art world, having used his considerable skills across multiple creative platforms. A filmmaker, painter, sculptor, producer, writer, actor and photographer, Levitas is also the founder of Metalwork Pictures, a media production company that develops and produces original content, including his 2014 directorial debut, “Lullaby,” as [...]

  • Oliver Laxe

    Cannes: ‘Fire Will Come’s’ Oliver Laxe on Classicism, Avant-Guard, Egos

    CANNES  —    Spain’s Oliver Laxe returns to Cannes for the third time with“Fire Will Come” (O Que Arde), competing in Un Certain Regard— the first time a Galician-language film is selected for Cannes. He has pedigree. His first time round, in 2010, Laxe snagged a Fipresci nod for his Directors’ Fortnight title “You All [...]

  • Gael Garcia Bernal'La Belle Epoque' premiere,

    Gael Garcia Bernal on Cannes Out of Competition Screening ‘Chicuarotes,’ Hope for Mexico

    CANNES  —  There’s a scene right at the beginning of “Chicuarotes,” Gael García Bernal’s second movie as a director, where Cagalera and Moleteco, two teens from the humble San Gregorio Atlapulco district of Mexico City, board a bus in clown’s makeup, and launch into a clumsy comedic sketch. Maybe because it’s delivered in San Gregorio [...]

  • Italy's Notorious Pictures on Buying Spree

    Cannes: Italy's Notorious Pictures on Buying Spree Takes 'Vivarium,' Ups Production (EXCLUSIVE)

    Italian distribution, production, and exhibition company Notorious Pictures is on a buying spree at the Cannes Film Market where they’ve acquired four high-profile titles, including Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots sci-fi-fier “Vivarium,” which world-premiered in Critics’ Week. On the production side the expanding outfit has teamed up with Belgium’s Tarantula Productions on Islamic terrorism thriller [...]

  • Marco Bellocchio The Traitor Cannes

    Director Marco Bellocchio Talks About Cannes Mafia Drama 'The Traitor'

    Cannes veteran Marco Bellocchio’s vast body of work spans from “Fists in the Pockets” (1965) to “Sweet Dreams,” which launched at Directors’ Fortnight in 2016. The auteur known for psychodramas and for bringing the complexities of Italian history, and hypocrisy, to the big screen is back, this time in competition, with “The Traitor,” a biopic [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content