Berlinale 2009: “Aguas Verdes” by Mariano De Rosa (Argentina)

BERLINALE 2009 Aguas Verdes by Mariano De Rosa (Argentina)

If we relieve in symbols, like the main character Juan does, then the red mate among the dirty cutlery in the first shot of the movie marks the onset of the story. But for the moment, everything is happiness. It is summer and the family is finally ready for a well-deserved vacation. And off they go to the Argentinean coastal town of Aguas Verdes, which gives name to Mariano De Rosa’s film debut. The depiction is precise: the fishing, the yelling, the sun bathing, the quarreling, the beach, the temporary friendships and the summer loves. The sexual awakening of Laura, the daughter, triggers the hidden fantasies of everyone around her. For the most part, this movie is a comedy, but soon the atmosphere begins to change, as the stink of rotten fish begins to thicken the air. The catch was a present given to Laura by Roberto, his knight in a shining armor and white horse (or rather with a shiny fake tooth and a motorcycle) that proves to be everything Juan, her father, is not. Little by little we are absorbed in his parental point of view, full of jealousy and paranoia, and we start looking at things as an outsider, as someone who has been left out of the picture on purpose. The line between what is real and what constitutes Juan’s paranoid fantasy is blurry, as the characters make a 180 degree turn. The ending is sudden, abrupt and confusing, when Juan finally decides to confront Roberto in a way that is totally out of character. The ending catches us by surprise, just in the way that a seagull attacks its prey.

The style of the film is somewhat confusing as it starts out as yet another Argentinean movie dealing with local customs, yet ends on a highly symbolical note. The audience was puzzled by the number of loose ends it left, and this showed during the Q&A after the screening, as the director received questions about what actually happened in the movie over and over again. As one might have expected, he gave no satisfactory answer.

The performance of Alejandro Fiore in the role of the father and that of Diego Cremonesi as his counterpart deserve a special mention, as they form the duo that keeps this movie going.

Although funny for moments, this film finds its place in the rather long list of movies that seem to be funny for an Argentinean audience but that don’t really travel particularly well.

By Denise Kripper (2009, Argentina)

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