DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
DUCK SEASON (Temporada de patos) (director/writer: Fernando Eimbcke; screenwriter: Paula Markovitch; cinematographer: Alexis Zabe; editor: Mariana Rodríguez; music: Liquits; cast: Daniel Miranda (Flama), Diego Cataño (Moko), Danny Perea (Rita), Enrique Arreola (Ulises), Carolina Politi (Mama Flama); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Frida Torresblanco/Christian Valdelièvre/Jaime Bernardo Ramos; Warner Independent Pictures; 2004-Mexico-in Spanish with English subtitles)

 
"The modest film works best for the viewer who goes with its flow of inertia."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The debut film for Mexican director-writer Fernando Eimbcke is an offbeat droll black comedy that works almost a miracle to resurrect the minimalist coming-of-age story after I thought it died a slow death. 

It's set in Mexico City at a hi-rise building, the Nonoalco the Tlateloclco housing development, on a Sunday, where at 11 a.m. the mother of the 14-year-old Flama (Daniel Miranda) leaves him alone with his same aged and equally dull-witted friend Moko (Diego Cataño) while she rushes off to visit her sister. The boys ritually drink perfectly equal shares of Coca-Cola; play Slayer on their PlayStation; get pissed that the power flickers on and off; are visited by their next-door neighbor Rita (Danny Perea), a pretty 16-year-old they do not know, who wants to bake a cake for her birthday but the oven in her parents' apartment is broken; and they send out for a pizza during the power outage. The obnoxious boys refuse to pay for the pizza after the harried twentysomething deliveryman, a native of San Juan, named Ulises (Enrique Arreola), runs up eight flights of stairs to get there in time to avoid giving away the pizza free if not delivered within a half hour. But the kids claim the pie was 11-seconds-late. The deliveryman refuses to leave until paid and when the power is restored ends up playing a soccer video game on the X-box for the pizza and the money, and when the power goes out again before the outcome of the video game is determined the deliveryman decides to hang out and reveal his soul to the youngsters. 

When Rita gives up on both her experimental kissing with Moko in the kitchen and the cake that burns, and instead bakes hashish brownies, the stoned characters come to life and reveal what's on their mind. The foursome express their disappointments with life, their missed opportunities, dreams and make new discoveries about themselves. Moko discovers he's gay, Flama is upset about his parents' pending divorce and becomes convinced he was adopted because no one else in his family has red hair, Rita sadly reveals no one at home celebrated her birthday and the down-trodden Ulises takes solace from a hideous wall painting of ducks in a pond and finds inspiration on how they fly together in a V- formation to draw strength from each other on their long and arduous journey.

It's well-acted and gets about as much intelligence and humor out of the slight conceit than it has a right to (its slightness and being shot in an elegant black and white act more as positives than deterrents). The modest film works best for the viewer who goes with its flow of inertia and accepts how in unexpected ways each of the ordinary loser characters transcends for the moment the narrow limits of their lonely and empty world that revolves around their families being dysfunctional.

REVIEWED ON 6/24/2009       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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