×

Venice Film Review: ‘The Quietude’

When their father takes ill, two unsettlingly close sisters learn secrets about each other and the origins of their family's wealth.

Director:
Pablo Trapero
With:
Martina Gusmán, Bérénice Bejo, Graciela Borges,

1 hour 51 minutes

Two sisters from an affluent family re-explore their unusually close bonds in “The Quietude,” Pablo Trapero’s beautifully crafted multilayered drama that’s also his most enjoyable film in years. Boasting a trio of actresses at the top of their game and cinematography that constantly impresses with its confident yet unshowy fluidity, the movie deftly enters into the bosom of a family harboring multiple secrets, encompassing the personal and political. Spanish-language films about wealthy people always risk getting slapped with the “telenovela” label, yet the emotions here are real, even if they are at a heightened level. Art-house play seems assured.

Set in pristine flatlands surrounded by a stunning flower garden, La Quietud is a coral-colored dream ranch that would scream “privilege!” if such genteel good taste could ever be accused of raising its voice. It’s the home of counsellor Augusto Montemayor (Isidoro Tolcachir), his wife, Esmeralda (Graciela Borges), and their younger unmarried daughter, Mía (Martina Gusmán), living an outwardly perfect life until Augusto has a stroke and older daughter Eugenia — Euge for short (Bérénice Bejo) — flies in from Paris to offer support. The similarity between the sisters is uncanny at first, especially when they romp in bed together reminiscing of teenage sexual fantasies that clearly are smoke screens which barely disguise their unsettling hunger for each other.

Euge is her mother’s preferred daughter, and Esmeralda’s happiness at having her home increases tenfold on learning that her eldest is pregnant. As the favorite, Euge is more carefree than her sister, more at peace with herself. Though married, she has had a romantic dalliance with family friend Esteban (Joaquín Furriel) that she wants to end, notwithstanding his forceful objections. Mía on the other hand has no interest in ending her decades-long affair with her sister’s husband Vincent (Edgar Ramírez), just arrived from Paris. Outlandishly passionate sex is a constant throughout “The Quietude,” which undeniably adds to the sensation of watching impossibly beautiful people in impossibly beautiful locations, yet Trapero works on two levels, presenting a melodramatic feast on the surface while opening up darker questions underneath.

Given this is Argentina, and the Montemayor family is rich, those troubling issues include politics, specifically the dark years of the dictatorship. Augusto’s death leads to legal inquiries into how property deals, including La Quietud, were arranged decades earlier, resulting in painful revelations that take the sisters unawares. Here’s where Esmeralda comes into sharp focus, giving veteran actress Borges the kind of wonderful gift few performers of her generation are accorded anymore. Her confessions shatter the tranquil façade where tensions always lurked under the surface, forcing her daughters even further into each other’s arms.

Gusmán and Bejo share a remarkable affinity in their scenes together, an unbounded physicality that seems almost to erase surface differences, as if they’re twins. The distinctions become deliberately more apparent as their characters move into high relief, offering both actresses ample space to create full-bodied individuals. As good as Gusmán and Bejo are, the real joy is watching Borges take charge, such as in a superb scene in which Diego Dussuel’s masterful camera follows her from the house into the garden as she breaks down on a bench, weeping. Accompanying that with Aretha Franklin’s version of “People” on the soundtrack is true inspiration.

Venice Film Review: 'The Quietude'

Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (noncompeting), Sept. 2, 2018. (Also in Toronto Film Festival — Special Presentations). Running time: 111 MIN. (Original title: “La Quietud”)

Production: (Argentina) A Sony Pictures Releasing Intl. presentation of a Matanza Cine, Telefe production, in association with Sony Pictures Releasing Intl. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Producers: Pablo Trapero, Axel Kuschevatzy. Executive producer: Alejandro Cacetta.

Crew: Director, screenplay: Pablo Trapero. Camera (color, widescreen): Diego Dussuel. Editors: Alejandro Brodersohn, Trapero. Music: Papamusic.

With: Martina Gusmán, Bérénice Bejo, Graciela Borges,Edgar Ramírez, Joaquín Furriel, Isidoro Tolcachir, Carlos Rivkin, Alejandro Fabio Viola, Noemi Marta Sayago. (Spanish, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Stuber

    ‘Stuber’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Twentieth Century Fox claims the top spot in spending with “Stuber.” Ads placed for the comedy had an estimated media value of $4.91 million through Sunday for 1,325 national ad airings on 42 networks. [...]

  • BTS - J-Hope, V, Jungkook, Jimin,

    BTS' 'Bring the Soul: The Movie' Gets Global Theatrical Release

    BTS will be back on the big screen this summer. The Korean pop group announced today that their latest feature film, “Bring the Soul: The Movie,” will have a global release on August 7. It arrives just six and a half months after the septet’s last film release, “Love Yourself in Seoul.” “Bring the Soul” [...]

  • Box Office: 'Yesterday' Movie Takes on

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' and 'Yesterday' Take on 'Toy Story 4'

    The weekend box office has gone to the dolls. “Annabelle Comes Home,” a supernatural horror film about a possessed toy, is facing off against another band of plastic figurines: “Toy Story 4.” Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” is expected to dominate box office charts again over newcomers “Annabelle Comes Home” and “Yesterday,” a fantasy musical set [...]

  • 'The Current War' Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch,

    Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult Feud in 'The Current War' Trailer (Watch)

    101 Studios has released an official new trailer for the Martin Scorcese-produced thriller, “The Current War,”  offering a glimpse into the dramatic 19th century battle over electricity that became known as the “war of the currents.” The film, which is a dramatization of real-life events, will follow the tumultuous journey of Thomas Edison, played by [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Oscars: 31 Upcoming Films That Could Enter the Awards Race

    The year reaches the halfway mark on June 30, and traditionally films from the first six months have an uphill battle in the Oscar race. However, this year’s January-June crop might get a boost from the accelerated schedule: Nominations voting is a tight Jan. 2-Jan. 7, 2020. So if voters start their homework now, early [...]

  • Yesterday Movie Danny Boyle

    Danny Boyle on 'Yesterday,' Leaving 'Bond 25' and Why the Beatles Still Rock

    Danny Boyle would like to reintroduce you to the Beatles. The iconic foursome certainly needs no introduction, but in his movie “Yesterday,” which debuts June 28, the director envisions a word where nobody has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That is, nobody besides Jack Malik. When the struggling songwriter, portrayed by newcomer Himesh [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content