Meanwhile

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Empty

Pyramide Productions, BD Cine

NEW YORK -- The title of this film, which reappears on screen at the end to focus viewers, seems to refer to the idea that life is something that happens while you're making other plans. A kind of soap without the soapsuds, this second feature from Argentinean director Diego Lerman ("Suddenly") dives into an extended network of working class lives. The lightly plotted story consisting of peccadilloes, minor betrayals, loyalties and sympathies, this is a satisfying and realistic examination of human relationships.

"Meanwhile's" everyday stories don't provide much of a marketing angle. But it could certainly play well on the small screen, where it won't have to shout to be heard. The film screened in the New Directors, New Films festival.

The dramas of "Meanwhile" are the happenings of daily life. An ensemble cast, who shares screen time evenly, take the viewer through numerous stories in Buenos Aires. These include an infertile couple searching for a way to have a baby, a cleaning lady who's humiliated by an old woman and a dog and a mother who's trying to cure her daughter's rash. Everyone's marginally connected, but Lerman, who scripted with Graciela Speranza, doesn't make a point of joining everything up. The film consequently feels airy and unforced.

The cast performs with a quiet naturalism that gives the film credibility. Lerman wraps it all up with gentle scenes of closure but, as with the lives he depicts, there are still some loose ends.

Lerman's debut "Suddenly" made some bold decisions about structure. "Meanwhile" experiments in a different way, ambitiously weaving stories and characters together without resorting to standard plot mechanisms. Patient viewing of this film is rewarded as Lerman again proves himself a director to watch.
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