Lives lived in slow motion
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.