UPDATE 5 Jan 2014: I was completely wrong about this film. I have reviewed my own review. Read my second take on this film, which has become a personal favorite, right here. You can still read this review, but ignore the overall dismissive tone. It’s crazy how experiences have the ability to reshape themselves.
This started out New Wave style. A number of different young women are being interviewed to become tour guides in a museum. One of them works there already and they are also screening workers to see who might have stolen an artifact. What follows is a character study of Mercedes Montt, a museum guide and student whose obsession with a certain text begins to color the world around her. In her relationships with friends, and her boyfriend, she seems to act in relation to this text although it’s never very clear what this text says exactly.
What we get instead is pretty black and white cinematography of cute Argentinian girls reading books, walking around parks and bookstores, eating fruits, and gossiping intellectually about their relationships. Rivette and Rohmer are the two main influences. Mercedes is an interesting character, a bit of a sociopath, always trying to influence her friends’ choices and impose her outlook on their situation. She’s not very open to other people’s interpretation of anything. You can feel she is gradually falling down a rabbit-hole but what the reasons and motivations are remain abstract.
What is interesting to me is that she is mirrored by another character, Clara. They collaborate on writing a breakup letter for Mercedes’ boyfriend. At first I was thinking “lesbian attraction” but in this pedantic low key drama the intensity of sex is absent.
A third character, Leticia, is fired from the museum upon suspicion that she stole an ornament. Eventually she lands a job as a tour guide for the National Observatory. She is also the only character who is able to make a clear decision about her relationship with a man she no longer loves while Mercedes has to write a letter and Clara basks in indecision.
Overall, it makes for a very dry viewing, quick to dull the senses of anyone looking for excitement or adventure. Logic seems to triumph over these rational beings but it leaves them deprived of any real passion. Leticia is the one character who seems to be aware of this predicament and the film ends on her doubtful face as she moves in with her new lover awaiting the same kind of unresolved tension that plagues everyone throughout the film.