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July 25, 2011 | by  | in Film | [ssba]


The word Medianeras itself roughly translates to ‘sidewalls’, which a scene from Gustavo Taretto’s assured debut describes as every building’s blank, purposeless side—“enormous surfaces that divide us, reminding us of time, filth and smog”. That’s just one of many obvious parallels the film will draw between architecture and the human condition; consistently referring back to the vast, concrete jungle of its setting and how it reflects upon the people that inhabit it. 

Though what could have been a gimmicky stab at depth elsewhere emerges as a fresh, recurrent motif here; tying Taretto’s various concerns together to form an affectionate love letter to Buenos Aires, a sharp meditation on big-city connection and an appealing romantic comedy all at once, while shot with a canny eye for urban aestheticism.

Medianeras focuses on two character, Martin and Marina: two kindred spirits, both living in shoebox apartments in neighboring buildings. Despite star-crossed compatibility, the two have never met and most of the film’s spur derives from the possibility that they never will. Yes, the set-up sounds like one of those contrived, serendipitous Hollywood romances that you might usually avoid, but the film holds a fresh charm despite its familiarity. Thirty minutes in, and you will be cheering for Fate to get off his ass and do his job.

Weaving their idiosyncrasies and neuroses in and out of one anothers, Taretto distributes voiceover narration responsibilities between the two singles as they offer guides to the city, windows to their routines and insight into the woes of 21st century living and the digital age, and both characters (played by Javier Drolas and the ZOMG-gorgeous Pilar López de Ayala) are hugely endearing.

Though, the melancholic reality of inner-city isolation and modern confusion that the film consistently draws upon demands to be betrayed eventually, and its conclusion sacrifices that core of pensive truths in exchange for coincidence and unabashed sweetness. Yet, as outlandish as its closing scene is, it’s also suitably perfect. You’ll find Medianeras has a similar effect on most other contrivances or shortcomings within its running time: all overpowered by infectious heart, a fresh, observant eye and dry, truthful wit.


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