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Tuesday, January 29, 2013 | Reception 6pm, Screening 7pm | Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave | Ticket Cost: $20 or 2 for $30
Ecuador | 2011 | 96 min | Director: Sebastián Cordero| Genre: Road Movie | Spanish with subtitles
Notable or recent movies centered around a found object: David Lynch’s Blue Velvet with the severed ear, the prrrrecious ring in LOTR, the map in The Goonies, Coraline’s doll, the creepy whispering box in The Possession, the amazing black box in Sneakers.
Emerging in the reviews as a mix of “offbeat comedy” and “drug heist,” Sebastián Cordero’s 2011 film, Pescador, feels like it should hail from an altogether separate and non-existing genre, “object-centered.” Inevitably, Pescador is what Camille Lamb in a delightful review for The Miami New Times refers to as a road movie. At any second, fired guns, splatters of blood, plumes of white powder, chaos, misery – they should fill the screen. After all, Pescador begins with the discovery and theft of a bunch of cocaine. Instead, something different happens, something much more gentle and delicate and quiet. Something closer to Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous tinged with a little Michael Mann-esque motion blur, cool color palette and sizzling soundtrack.
Beginning with the glorious orgy of an entrance, Pescador yawns wide and showy as wooden boxes full of cocaine wash ashore of a fishing village. Playfully, Cordero’s downbeat for the montage that follows begins with the hocked cocaine-filled loogie of protagonist Blanquito (Andrés Crespo). Not to make too much of the loogie (although I might never get another chance) but when cocaine shows up in movie, I’m conditioned to expect the characters to indulge. This simple act of the spit was the first of many opportunities for pause.
Crespo’s Blanquito is odd. For instance, we learn right away that he’s 30 years old, but he looks much older and at times, much like a modern-day Woody Harrelson (who’s a handsome 51). Rather than dismiss this as poor casting, it seems that the sun-worn facade functions with some modicum of hyperbole; Crespo’s Blanquito is a walking metaphor of his own weathered soul. Instead of spending precious screen time showing us the angst that is his life, we learn quickly that this man Blanquito is not faring well, even though life in this village seems somewhat idyllic. How hard can it be to live on a beach? For someone like Blanquito, it can be too much to bear.
No wonder, then, that Blanquito can’t even get to work on time, still lives with his mother and suffers from all sorts of malfunction. In a word, he’s pathetic. And yet, he spit the cocaine. When faced with the opportunity to easily cash in his found cocaine for a small fortune, he, once again, does something different. As Aaron Sorkin would put it, he reaches for the stars.
This means he eventually ends up on a bus, pretty lady by his side and plans in his head for reuniting with his absentee father and cashing in his cocaine for much more money than his short-sighted neighbors received. Thus begins the road trip for Blanquito, who even starts going by his real name, Carlos Adrián Solórzano Cedeño—a not-so-subtle suggestion of transformation.
Beyond the rugged exterior, Blanquito, er, Carlos is a heavy breather. I was so glad when I read in Lamb’s review that she, too, found this quality in Carlo’s character to be riveting. Lamb was fortunate enough to get to speak with director (and co-writer) Sebastián Cordero about this:
At the Q&A, Cordero detailed how he brought viewers into Blanquito’s world both with deliberately intimate camera angles and, more impressively, by bottoming out the film’s other sound at key moments, picking up only the character’s farm animal-like breathing in its place. “We spent a significant amount of time focusing on the breathing as a means of bringing you into Blanquito’s interior world,” said Cordero. “[That] and the over the shoulder shots help you identify with him quite a bit.”
While evoking the heavy breathing reminding me of Daniel Day Lewis’ Oscar-winning performance in My Left Foot and the (sorry—another severed ear reference) gruesome torture scene in Reservoir Dogs, it’s Carlos’ silence that’s more remarkable. What was he thinking? Why wasn’t he given more of a voice? Debussy said, “Music is the space between the notes.” Was it really the heavy breathing or was it the silence that makes Carlos so compelling?
True to form of a road movie, the movie finishes in a way that’s no where near as dramatic as a narcotic-heist or even narcotic-comedy (Is there such a thing? Why, yes, yes there is) film would allow. Instead, Pescador hovers just close enough to such drama while allowing us a proximity to Carlos we wouldn’t normally enjoy. And with just as much caprice as it started, Pescador draws to a close in a way that leaves us a little more introspective than before, as if leaning forward in an attempt to hear something, anything and everything from the silence.