'Mar': Film Review

MAR Still 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center
This is one cinematic holiday from which you'll want to bail.

A thirtysomething couple experience relationship distress while on holiday in Dominga Sotomayor's Chilean film.

A thirtysomething unmarried couple goes on vacation and the audience suffers in Chilean filmmaker Dominga Sotomayor's follow-up to her acclaimed Thursday Till Sunday (2012). Recently showcased at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Neighboring Scenes: New Latin American Cinema series, Mar is an off-putting experimental feature that at least provides some compensation for being tedious by also being mercifully brief.

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The central characters in the largely improvised proceedings are Martin, or Mar (Lisandro Rodriguez), and his girlfriend Eli (Vanina Montes), who travel together to an Argentine resort town for a holiday. The lingering troubles in their relationship are briefly discussed, but are more strikingly expressed by their alienated body language, heightened by the director's deliberately off-kilter framing in which body parts are cut off, backs are turned to the camera and features are obscured. The visual effect, mildly interesting at first, quickly proves tiresome.

Nothing much happens in the film's first half, unless you count a lightning strike (sadly literal, not figurative) and a party sequence in which Eli flirts with a stranger while Martin ignores her, content to strum his guitar and smoke pot.

Things perk up slightly with the arrival of Martin's mother (Andrea Strenitz), whose live-wire personality is at least a welcome contrast to the couple's moroseness. But her motivations are similarly unexplored, so we wind up spending time with a trio of characters about whom we care next to nothing.   

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The static, unengaging proceedings, which make your typical mumblecore film seem like an action movie by comparison, clock in at a mere 61 minutes. But it feels like an eternity.

Venue: Neighboring Scenes: New Latin American Cinema

Production: Cinestacion, Frutacine

Cast: Lisandro Rodriguez, Vanina Montes, Andrea Strenitz

Director: Dominga Sotomayor

Screenwriters: Lisandro Rodriguez, Vanina Montes, Manuela Martelli, Dominga Sotomayor

Producers: Dominga Sotomayor, Ivan Eibuszyc, Lisandro Rodriguez

Executive producers: Ivan Eibuszyc, Dominga Sotomayor

Director of photography: Nicola Ibieta

Production designer: Limari Asuci

Editor: Catalina Marin

Not rated, 61 minutes