Lives lived in slow mo­tion

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

WHEN WATCH­ING ex­treme ex­er­cises in nar­ra­tive min­i­mal­ism – even from the mas­ters, such as Jim Jar­musch or Ab­bas Kiarostami – the wary viewer will oc­ca­sion­ally won­der if he is be­ing taken for a (very se­date) ride. Lake Ta­hoe, the sec­ond fea­ture from the Mex­i­can di­rec­tor Fer­nando Eim­bcke, cer­tainly stirs up such sus­pi­cions.

Beginning with a youth walk­ing away from a wrecked car, the pic­ture fol­lows its hero (Diego Catano) as he seeks the hous­ing for a dis­trib­u­tor cap, at­tends a kung fu film with a new friend and en­coun­ters a badly be­haved dog. It soon tran­spires that the young man’s dad has re­cently died and he is cop­ing with his mother’s with­drawal from fam­ily life.

There are, I guess, clas­sic art-house films in which even less hap­pens, but Eim­bcke, whose cam­era only moves when it ab­so­lutely has to, works a lit­tle too hard at strip­ping any drama from the sit­u­a­tion.

Here is a mod­ernist house with a tree out­side. Here is an un­usual looking shop. Here is a road. What we end up with is a se­ries of es­tab­lish­ing shots for a film that never quite gets started.

Still, on bal­ance, it seems clear that Eim­bcke is not in­volved in any sort of con game. Un­like this week’s faintly fraud­u­lent Gi­gan­tic (see re­view be­low left), Lake Ta­hoe looks like the work of a di­rec­tor who be­lieves sin­cerely in the in­tegrity of his un­wel­com­ing aes­thetic. If some bright pro­ducer could per­suade him to ac­tu­ally tell us a story, then he might yet de­velop into a ma­jor film-maker.

For now, along with Cal­i­for­nia Dream­ing and Terry Gil­liam’s Brazil, Lake Ta­hoe of­fers the an­swer to a trivia ques­tion con­cern­ing films that do not take place in the lo­cales sug­gested by their ti­tles. That’s some­thing.

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