Saturday, July 28, 2012

Medianeras (“Sidewalls” 2011 ) ****

In an effort to learn Spanish, I’ve been watching a lot of Spanish-language movies, and not worrying too much about the quality.  It was nice, finally, to watch one that is quite well done.  This little Argentinean, romantic comedy is philosophical, charming, and visually beautiful.
Martin (Javier Drolas), an agoraphobic website designer and Mariana (Pilar Lopez de Ayala), an underemployed architect, live on the same street in Buenos Aires.  Both are depressed and lonely.  As both go through a series of futile dates, we come to see that they would be perfect for each other, but of course, the odds of the two of them meeting in such a huge city are not good.  The city has ways of putting up barriers between people, and the theme of the film is that successfully making a life in such a place requires physically and mentally breaking through those barriers.
Meanwhile, the camera lingers on the skyline and the individual buildings of Buenos Aires, gray and inhuman.  The variety of buildings is endless, and many have blank, windowless sidewalls, called medianeras.  These blank spaces are used for billboards, an ugly alternative to what could have been light-bringing windows, and many apartment- dwellers rebel by chipping through the concrete to place unauthorized windows.
Despite the urban philosophizing and beautiful cinematography, “Medianeras” does not demand to be taken too seriously.  It’s a fun, optimistic, romantic comedy which declares that, as one of the songs in the film puts it, “true love will find you in the end.”  Amen to that.

4 stars out of 5

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