Hermia & Helena (2016)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.  

Argentina/USA, 2016.  Trapecio Cine, Ravenser Odd, Cinema Conservancy.  Screenplay by Matías Piñeiro.  Cinematography by Fernando Lockett.  Produced by Andrew Adair, Jake Perlin, Melanie Schapiro, Graham Swon.   Film Editing by Sebastián Schjaer.

The curious and clever mind of Matias Pineiro creates a short and whimsical film about a young woman’s sojourn from Buenos Aires to New York.  Carmen (Maria Villar) has come to the Big Apple to do a fellowship whose main project has her translating Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream into Spanish; she has taken over her friend Camila’s apartment, who finished her own fellowship and ended her flirtation with an American student (Keith Poulson) before going back home.  Carmen starts a minor love affair with the same young man, despite having a sweetheart back home, and while staying in her new apartment starts receiving postcards from a friend of Camila’s who is coming for a visit.  This odd experience then leads to Carmen reconnecting with an old boyfriend and also meeting her biological father in a series of seemingly random events that almost suggest that Manhattan is the enchanted woods of the Bard’s popular fantasy.  The strands of story logic are held together at their core by Pineiro’s beautiful visual style and the strength of Villar’s performance; this filmmaker isn’t for everyone, his perpetual sense of distraction can come off as unstudied and underdeveloped to some (neither the Shakespeare project nor Carmen’s various experiences ever feel like they are explored enough), but for those to whom the movie will appeal it is a light and sophisticated examination of its characters, who are all very appealing.

 Toronto International Film Festival:  2016

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