Film Review: Gigante

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Berlin International Film Festival -- Competition
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BERLIN -- The gently humorous account of a supermarket security guard obsessed with a cleaning woman he's never spoken to, "Gigante" is a pint-sized indie from Uruguay that has wandered into Berlin competition thanks to its inherent charm and probably by being a German-Dutch co-production.

Carefully combed through many festival development markets, the film is impeccable but distant, lacking in spontaneity and not very original. Still, it should fit the bill for festivals and provide debuting writer-director Adrian Biniez with a bankable calling card for future work.

The story revolves around Jara (Horatio Camandule), a supermarket security guard whose physical mass is belied by his shy, sweet blue eyes. In a few clever strokes, Biniez defines him as an uncomplicated fellow whose head is in the right place. When he spies a cleaning woman swiping food, he turns a blind eye; later, when she tries to abscond with a piece of electronics, he makes her put it back.

Jara's tedious night shifts and couch potato life come alive when he develops a crush on Julia (Leonor Svarcas), a young cleaner from the country. Too timid to talk to her, he begins following her every move on the security monitors, then progresses to stalking her on the street. After following her to Internet cafes and karate class, he ends up shadowing her on a blind date with an Internet chat buddy. When the two part, he trails her nervous date down dark streets, but predictably the threatening situation turns into mild comedy.

This isn't laugh-out-loud fun, but by keeping the story visual and nearly wordless, Biniez is able to bring out the full measure of Camandule's gentle giant humor. Svarcas is simple and unaffected as his obsession.

The shabby Montevideo setting could just as well have been Buenos Aires, haunted by an endless economic crisis that keeps the lower rungs of society counting their pennies. Even though Jara seems fairly apolitical, the film exudes sympathy for the working class stiffs who live under the threat of job cutbacks and redundancy.

Biniez's music background is well served in the film's offbeat use of heavy metal tracks, which are nicely worked into the story.

Production: Control Z, Pandora Filmproduktion, IDTV Films, Rizoma Films.
Cast: Horatio Camandule, Leonor Svarcas, Nestor Guzzini, Federico Garcia, Fabiana Charlo.
Director: Adrian Biniez.
Screenwriter: Adrian Biniez.
Producers. Christoph Friedel, Hernan Musaluppi, Frans van Gestel.
Executive producers: Fernando Epstein, Agustina Chiarino.
Director of photography: Arauco Hernandez.
Production designer: Alejandro Castiglioni.
Music: Adrian Biniez.
Costumes: Emilia Carlevaro.
Editor: Fernando Epstein.
Sales: The Match Factory.

No rating, 88 minutes
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