Mar del Plata: Argentina on the Rise – Gustavo Biazzi

Santiago Mitre cinematographer debuts with ‘The Bums,’ a nostalgia-tinged film which wears its serious themes lightly

Mar del Plata: Argentina on the
La Union de los Rios

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — Lensed with a continuous verve from the first shot of the protagonist, Ernesto, running to catch his girlfriend at a viva at university, there’s hardly a shot in the first three-quarters of Gustavo Biazzi’s “Los Vagos” (“The Bums”) where Ernesto or the camera is not on the move, sometimes making highly technical demanding shots look easy. That of course is to be expected from one of Argentina’s most reputed young cinematographers, whose credits take in Santiago Mitre’s “The Student” and Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Paulina.” It also reflects the movie’s subject. On holiday in Misiones, Ernesto leaving behind his girlfriend from childhood, the high-achiever Paula, for a riverside holiday with his laddish friends back home. Together, they hit parties, chase girls, booze themselves into stupor, as Ernesto searches for he’s not sure what as an alternative to Paula. Produced by Santiago Carabante and La Union de los Rios, “The Bums” is at once – from a cursory first impression – a nostalgia-swilled chronicle of the last carefree (male) summer of youth and the failings of the masculine romantic mindset: Ernesto’s readiness to write off the girls they pick up as slags, just because his classist friends say so, and men’s tendency, for instance, to fall in love with and idolize the girlfriends they’ve just effectively abandoned. “The Bums” wears its themes lightly, bucking the trend of high seriousness of much Latin American cinema: No reason, however, to ignore a considerable new auteur in the ranks of Argentine cinema.