LFF Review – French Revolutions – Americano
[imdb]tt1742023[/imdb] TITLE – [imdb:title] YEAR – [imdb:year] DIRECTOR -Mathieu Demy CAST – Mathieu Demy, Geraldine Chaplin and Chiara Mastroianni WRITERS – Mathieu Demy,
I am very close to my Mother. I can’t imagine for a minute living halfway around the world from her. Let alone losing touch for the best part of a decade (my Dad on the other hand….). But for Martin in Americano, played by the writer and director Mathieu Demy, this is exactly where he wants to be and has achieved it with great success. He has forgotten all about his life as a child in USA, when he lived with his parents in Venice beach. After his Father left and took Martin with him back to France, the child quickly took sides and ended up withdrawing from his Mother.
When an early morning phone call is received by Martin, informing him of his Mothers passing, he faints with shock, but is quickly back into the numb state and nonchalant attitude towards her. Like a robot, he has to travel to Los Angeles, sell her apartment and repatriate her body for the funeral.
Martin is still calling many blanks from his memory. He has completely forgotten anything from before he was 8. But when he arrives in USA and is picked up by Linda a close family friend, played by Geraldine Chaplin in brilliant and eccentric form, he starts to have flash backs to his past.
Why did his Mother not care for him? Why did she turn her back on him?
Whilst clearing out the small cluttered apartment Martin is handed a letter that is return to sender. It is for someone called Lola, played by the stunning Salma Hayek. Another person he cannot remember, and another person who is closer to his own parent than he ever was. He decides to try to track down this elusive Lola. His search leads him to the slums in Tijuana and to the strip joint, Americano, where Lola works as a dancer. However to find the closer he needs he has to face up to his past.
There are many things to like with Americano. Mathieu Demy, who wrote, directed and starred in the lead role here, does a pretty stand up job in at least two of these roles. The directional side was excellent. The choice of different colour palettes through the film was beautiful, from the cool and calm blues of France to the vibrant neons of Tijuana it was very effective to see. Also the use of long shots throughout the film managed to convey a great sense of emotion, one particular shot in the strip joint brought us completely down to Martins level, we truly felt sensation of seeing the beautiful Lola for the first time, this shot must have been 5 minutes long. I also enjoyed greatly the scene with the writer man, and the clever use of flashback and present day. The script was good but also felt sloppy in places. When Martin spoke in English it felt like he was reading it as he went, but I feel that this did actually help in build on the ‘fish out of water’ emotions that he was feeling. Salma Hayek was very strong in her turn. Not only is she probably one of the most attractive women on the planet but she played this guarded but with a warm heart dancer very effectively and convincingly.
My main gripe with the film is that apart from Hayek’s Lola I didn’t really connect with the main characters, especially Martin. You would have thought I would be able to, being a child of a broken family. But I found him a bit weak and numb, even when he was being pushed to his emotional limit he felt disconnected. I kept waiting for him to do the typical Gallic shrug and walk home. When the reveal is shown and equilibrium is restored to the narrative I found him unchanged and emotionally stumped. I would have liked to seen more change in his character.
Americano is a stand up drama, filled with lovely cinematography and clever direction but slightly lacking in emotional connection to its audience.
[starreview tpl=16 size='30']
AMERICANO IS BEING SHOWN AT LONDON FILM FESTIVAL AS PART OF THE ‘FRENCH REVOLUTIONS’ SEGMENT ON 14TH AND 15TH OCTOBER
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