film note: Hawaii

Sloooooow down

Hawaii
Directed by Marco Berger
1h 46m, Argentina, 2013

This is my favorite feature of Argentine director, Marco Berger, even though it really only represents a refinement of the stylistic and narrative elements common to the rest of his work rather than a major development or step forward:

  • the essential and somewhat sentimentalized eroticism of male bonding;
  • the postponement until bursting of any sort of consummation or fulfillment of that eroticism, due to the confusions or extreme shyness of his men;
  • an arch and muy lenta y argentina elaboration of the rituals that constitute that bonding;
  • the foreshortened framing that makes interior spaces even more intimate than they are;
  • the emphasis on everything below the head, particularly the bulging crotches of the men;
  • extended close-ups that allow his actors to explore layers of and changes in emotions in any particular scene.

Berger lifts a device used in the film’s title nearly wholesale from Lisandro Alonso’s 2008 feature Liverpool, which is also a non sequitur, although Alonso’s feature is very different in tone and neither the word nor the city is any sort of catalyst as it is in Hawaii.

I’m a little disappointed in that use, but I probably shouldn’t be. Berger is as a sensitive and patient director of actors as ever and uses Manuel Vignau from Plan B, here with a haircut, glasses, and from a different social class, in a way that makes me feel like the actor is some sort of stand-in for Berger. All of which is to say that I guess he’s becoming an auteur, and it’s fun to watch.

Summary
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Hawaii
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