Idleness: Berlin Review

A cool glance at disaffected youth in a visually attractive no-budgeter without a storyline.


BERLIN: A very small Argentine film that targets disaffected teenage boys, Idleness has its moments of truth, wrapped around the do-nothing days of a 20-something young man from an impoverished family in Buenos Aires. A sensitive use of space and a rigorous refusal to dramatize the hero's unhappiness make it a classy-cool calling card for co-directors Juan Villegas (Suicidals) and debuting helmer Alejandro Lingenti, though with this little narrative, the film is commercially negligible.

The dark and moody Nahuel Viale plays young Andres, a role similar to his bow in the no-budgeters Glueand (How) To Be Dead. A mute opener shows him with his dad and brother at the cemetery, paying their respects to his mother's grave before returning to a ratty apartment. The father gets odd jobs as a clown at children's parties; Andres has neither work nor money. He listens to music, reads Camus, hangs out with two friends and buys a motorcycle from some bikers. End of story.

Teenage boys (there are no girls in the film) will relate best to the offhand philosophizing, like the story his buddy recounts with shining eyes about a time-traveling comic book hero who finds himself in different places, surrounded by strangers speaking unknown languages, forced to do things he doesn't want to do to survive. That about sums up Andres' alienation.

Augustin Mendilaharzu's striking cinematography is based on careful compositions and washed out grays that give visual interest to rundown streets and houses with broken windows. Images combine insistently with snatches of songs and music, which is okay, but the use of grating electronic guitar chords to punctuate scenes grows old fast.

Venue: Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 17.
Production company: Tresmilmundos Cine, El Pampero Cine.
Cast: Nahuel Viale, Francisco Grassi, German de Silva, Lucas Oliveira, Santiago Barrionuevo.
Director: Juan Villegas, Alejandro Lingenti.
Screenwriter: Alejandro Lingenti.

Producer: Laura Citarella.
Director of photography: Augustin Mendilaharzu.
Production designer: Florencia Perez.
Music: Arial Minimal.
Costumes: Florencia Perez.
Editor: Santiago Esteves.
Sales Agent: Tresmilmundos Cine.
73 minutes.