Daniel Miranda, Diego Catano, Danny Perea, Enrique Arreola
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
|I'm not sure I've ever seen a foreign film like "Duck Season."
Now, that's not necessarily a high compliment, but neither is it an insult.
On the contrary. "Duck Season" is really just a goofy little film that happens to be a Spanish-language film. It has nothing particularly brilliant to say, but it's the kind of film that remains almost impossible to not watch.
In many ways, "Duck Season" ("Temporada de patos" in its native tongue) reminds me of a Jim Jarmusch film. There are two basic differences:
1) In a Jarmusch film, there's typically a hidden meaning, an existential thought process that permeates the dialogue and somehow connects it all. In this film, writer/director Fernando Eimbcke's whole point seems to be the absence of pointed thought. In "Duck Season," it's not really about the journey or the destination...it's more about just showing up and giggling or fighting or just dealing with whatever happens. It's, in fact, perhaps better stated as a cross between Jarmusch and Samuel Beckett.
2) The flip side is that Jarmusch is, quite often, too dry and too stagnant for many film viewers. In "Duck Season," you will laugh and you will have emotional experiences. They simply won't really mean anything.
The film centers on two young teens, Flama (Daniel Miranda) and Moko (Diego Catano). These young boys plot out a happy Sunday of video games and pizza and coke. These scenes, played out, are simple. We are watching, quite literally, two best friends hang out on a lazy Sunday afternoon playing video games.
The action shifts when the electricity goes out, and the young boys are left to find other sources of fun. Then, we are introduced to Rita (Danny Perea), a 16-year-old neighbor who knocks on the door begging to use their oven.
Without ever losing the film's precious charm, Eimbcke pieces together scenes with Rita and the young boys that are sweet, sensitive, a touch flirty and sometimes innocently awkward.
The final player in this play without purpose arrives in the person of a pizza deliveryman who refuses to leave when the young boys dispute his arrival within the guaranteed thirty minute delivery time.
With all the players introduced, "Duck Season" becomes a series of moments randomly ordered without any apparent rhyme, reason or purpose. I suppose it is possible to find significant meaning in "Duck Season." I am, in fact, a master at finding meaning in most any life experience.
Yet, the way "Duck Season" approaches its lessons is more reminiscent of watching "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." In fact, had "Ferris" focused more on the Alan Ruck's character Cameron, the film might've played out much like "Duck Season." By the end of "Duck Season," the lessons ultimately come from the everyday goofy experiences that kids have. Yet, Eimbcke never condescends to the kids. The experiences these kids are having may very well be pointless and random, but they are genuine, everyday moments in life for these kids.
"Duck Season" practically did a sweep of Mexico's Ariel Awards in 2005 and has been a fan favorite at numerous film festivals for its unique approach and the quirky charm of its characters. Perea, in particular, is a revelation. She seems best able to build a bridge for her character from the pointless to the perceptive and the meaningless to the profound.
As the pizza deliveryman Ulises, Enrique Arreola brings to mind the frenetic energy of Roberto Benigni's Oscar acceptance speech along with Benigni's innocence and sweetness.
Both young leads perform nicely here, and their chemistry makes it completely believable that the two boys could spend such a Sunday afternoon together.
"Duck Season" is filmed in a sharpened black and white. This approach suits perfectly the very plain tone that Eimbcke takes throughout the film. The film's production design is simple and effective, including a score by Alejandro Rosso that accompanies the action nicely.
"Duck Season" is ridiculously rated "R", mostly for language, pot brownies and mild sexuality. There's, quite literally, nothing in the film that most 14-year-old boys don't deal with on a daily basis.
"Duck Season" is a good film that isn't really striving for greatness but still manages to nearly get there. It's a pointless film that celebrates the joy of pointlessness to the point that there's nearly a point to it all.
"Duck Season" is unlikely to be anyone's favorite film, but Eimbcke, in his feature film debut, has created a film of unique vision and character. It may be hard to find, but "Duck Season" is worth hunting for.
|© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic