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Fringe Report is now closed. Fringe Report closed on its 10th anniversary, Thursday 12 July 2012. It remains online as a record of 10 exciting years in the arts. Till July 2013, previously unwritten content is being added to the site from the past 10 years, but we are no longer reviewing new material. You can still write to us on the existing email addresses. Good luck with your shows.
Año uña (2007)
(The Year of the Nail)
Verdict: Moving still images
Año uña is hard to follow at first, being made up of still-images and using two languages - and not all translated. But its experimental approach also involves a strong story-line, and characters who exist on more than one level.
It starts in black-and-white, gradually turning into colour as the relationship develops between Molly (Eireann Harper) and Diego (Diego Catano). It follows the characters through summer, autumn, winter, spring and summer again.
It's summer. Molly is a twenty-something American sociology student and Diego a fourteen-year-old full of hormones. Molly's visit to Mexico with a friend finds them on the tourist trail deciding whether street-food is safe to eat - or not. They visit the temple of Quetzalcoatl, and Molly recalls her mother's photos of the place. She and her friend switch between Spanish and English. She also switches between what is spoken out loud and an inner monologue.
Diego has just finished a football game and is engaged in his own inner monologue. He masturbates as he considers the charms of his cousin Emilia (Emilia Garcia). Diego and Emilia are seen at the shopping mall not quite getting on with each other.
The movements of Diego and Molly are interspersed with vignettes of the other characters. Diego's mother (Mariana Elizondo) feeds stray cats; the older family members celebrate a birthday wondering why they should celebrate getting older at their age. Soon Diego's taking the dogs for a walk while Molly visits the Museum of the Inquisition. Molly really wanted to photograph the Basilica.
These two characters live in different worlds. The relationship between Mexico and the USA is subtly hinted at in attitude and manners of speech. Molly is unhappy with her latest, much-older boyfriend. Diego just wants to fuck Emilia.
Autumn. Black-and-white turns into sepia. Molly wants to know more about Mexico and improve her Spanish. She has arranged to live as a paying guest with Diego's family. As Molly and Diego walk the dogs and go to the beach sepia moves to colour. Molly feels that she is being used as a baby-sitter and that Diego has a crush on her. She returns to the States.
In winter, Molly is having a herpes test after another unsuccessful relationship. Diego is at the vet's watching one of the cats being neutered. His granddad is having a cancer operation. By a frozen river, Molly remembers the beach in Mexico. By spring, Diego is planning to run away to New York but Emilia doesn't believe him. Diego meets Molly in New York and neither of their inner monologues correctly predicts the outcome. Summer. Molly and Diego have moved on. Diego's toenail, which he damaged playing football a year ago, has finally healed.
The images become like moving pictures as they push the story forward. This technique is remarkable. It powerfully conveys the thought and emotions behind a particular photograph or set of still images. The soundtrack – the inner monologues and the spoken words, the sounds of the house, the streets and the beach - adds further layers to the narrative.
Jonás Cuaróns film is a bold attempt to create a different kind of story-telling. It succeeds. The still images live and become moving pictures.
CAST: (imdb): www.imdb.com/title/tt0984969/
COMPANY: (imdb): www.imdb.com/title/tt0984969/
(c) Peter Andrews 2008
reviewed Friday 5 December 08 / The Classic, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Note - Before today's screening of Año uña, two short films were shown. They were the winners of a competition to make a film in the same style. They were A Moment Twice and A Final Memory... Hope. They can be seen at www.anounacompetition.co.uk
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