The Lips -- Film Review

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CANNES -- Almost a documentary, "The Lips" takes the viewer on a slow, measured journey into the outbacks of Argentina, areas of great poverty, where three women medics arrive on a government-sponsored health mission. Co-directors Santiago Loza and Ivan Fund show enormous respect for these selfless idealists and for the people unto whom they minister. But it's an exceedingly small film that will find little space outside festivals.

Uncommitted viewers may give up in the opening 15 minutes, which is basically a long overnight bus ride taken by three unknown female characters. They get off in the middle of a country road and are accompanied by a local man, Raul, to the abandoned hospital which is to be their home. The place is in ruins and flooded. No one utters a word of complaint.

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The body of the film is given to their visits to the area's scattered residents, who suffer from malnutrition and other ills caused by poverty. Part sociologists, part paramedics, they question the locals closely about their children's diet and how many family members sleep in one bed. Lead by an older women, Coca (Adela Sanchez), the younger women go quietly about their business with a stoic heroism that occasionally breaks down in tears. A final happy dance sequence in a local bar is enough to close the film on an upbeat note.

Camera stays very, very close to faces, emphasizing their humanity, and by the end of the film you feel you know something about these women. Acting is as naturalistic as possible. Lorena Moriconi's discreet editing follows the same less-is-more strategy.

Venue: Festival de Cannes -- Un Certain Regard
Production companies: Morocha Films, Alta Definicion Argentina, Tres Sonido
Cast: Adela Sanchez, Eva Bianco, Victoria Raposo, Raul Lagger
Directors: Ivan Fund, Santiago Loza
Screenwriters: Ivan Fund, Santiago Loza
Producers: Ivan Eibuszyc, Santiago loza, Ivan Fund
Director of photography: Maria Laura Collasso
Production designer: Adrian Suarez
Costume designer:  Adrian Suarez
Music: Ivan Fund, Lisandro Rodriguez
Editor: Lorena Moriconi
No rating, 104 minutes
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