Isabella (2020)

MATIAS PINEIRO

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

/, 2020. . Screenplay by Matías Piñeiro. Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by , . Production Design by . Costume Design by Ana Cambre. Film Editing by .

Matias Piñeiro’s experimental style always welcomes the viewer into the experience, challenging us to keep up with his fractured narratives and guarded characters but never in a manner that feels intentionally frustrating. This examination of artists and the difficulty of keeping their inner fires fed focuses on an actress, played by Piñeiro regular , who has been asked to audition for the lead role in an upcoming production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (not the first time the director has brought in the Bard as an intertext, and likely not the last). She agrees to go despite being almost eight months pregnant, and at the casting session is told what to prepare, a monologue about a personal situation as well as a scene from the play itself.

For the former, Muñoz flashes back to a year earlier when the same play was originally going to be mounted, she travels from Buenos Aires to Cordoba to ask her brother to lend her money that she needs to attend the audition. While there, she meets his girlfriend (Piñeiro’s other regular collaborator ), and the two of them become friends, running lines together as Villar helps pump up Muñoz’s confidence. Back to the present, and Villar is also attending the casting session and looks likely to get the part; a third time period becomes more prevalent in the constant intercutting, a look at the future after Muñoz’s baby has been born and where these two women end up in their relationship.

Piñeiro does a fantastic job of making the three different time periods distinct, easily clarified through the setting and the appearances of the actors, as he liberally cuts back and forth between them all in seemingly random but never confusing order. As always, he touches on the deep emotional land mines that come with friendship in a deceptively light and breezy manner, the situations these characters are in are easy to deconstruct (auditioning for a role and waiting to see if they get it) but the aftermath of each is irreversible. The rich hues of the mountains of Cordoba and the beauty of the neon lights of Muñoz’s theatrical project add a vibrant aesthetic layer to what is already an intellectually provocative film.

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