Acne

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Acne, Cannes, Directors Fortnight

This first feature by the 32-year-old Uruguayan director Federico Veiroj is modest to the point of invisibility, but not without its small charms.

A coming-of-age comedy about a 13-year-old named Rafael Bregman, it contains much of the sexual humor and general awkwardness that is generic in such films, and more than a few of the jokes are ones we've seen many times before. The slight twist here is that while Rafael loses his virginity to a prostitute at the very beginning of the film, she won't let him kiss her on the mouth, and Rafael's obsessive goal thereafter becomes the procurement of his first real kiss.

Rafael is Jewish and this angle is played up now and then, with some of the humor coming from his Bar Mitzvah, along with a subplot about a friend whose family is migrating to Israel that isn't quite developed and doesn't quite fit.

Most of whatever humor the film contains comes from cutting suddenly to often-cute sight gags, but the set-up for some of the scenes is longer than it should be, and it must be said that the film is a long way from being a laugh-a-thon. Still, whatever blemishes "Acne" may reveal -- and commercial prospects are decidedly limited -- are more than made up for by the acting or rather, sheer being, of Alejandro Tocar, who plays the confused pimple-faced lad.

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