Jacqueline (Argentine)


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Camille Rutherford in Jacqueline (Argentine) - a young French woman hires a man to document her self-imposed political asylum in Argentina after supposedly leaking highly confidential government secrets.
"Britto is, essentially, targeting only low-hanging fruit." | Photo: Bernardo Britto

Bernardo Britto attempts to satirise a certain type of 'non-documentary' with his feature debut - the sort which quickly slides into being about the failure to make a documentary and the documentary process itself, rather than the subject matter, a method most frequently employed by the likes of Nick Broomfield. For this to work, however, the set-up needs to be water-tight, believable and multi-faceted enough to sustain a feature-length running time.

The scenario isn't bad. An independent director (Wyatt Cenac) is contacted by French woman Jacqueline Dumont (Camille Rutherford), who claims to be a whistleblower living on the lam in Argentina ever since she discovered a government plan to assassinate a Middle Eastern politician. The use of a wildly eclectic and frequently intrusive soundtrack - one of the commonest crimes against documentary and deserving of parody - is also a nice touch. But the cracks in Britto's idea begin to show early on, not least because "the director" is such a dud from the start, hiring a couple of interns as his cameraman and sound guy. In the deadpan delivery that provides one or two - although not enough - good moments as the film progresses, the director says of his sound recordist: "He had absolutely no experience... but he was very nice."

Copy picture

His crew's general uselessness makes everything too faux from the off. Why would Dumont hire a guy with so little competence even if, as the director comes to suspect, she is a Walter Mitty type, who is peddling lies? Also the portentousness of the voice-over would work much better if it was delivered by someone we feel could cut the mustard but was simply too full of his own importance to see what is in front of him. Britto is, essentially, targeting only low-hanging fruit.

Once in Argentina, the story becomes shaggier than a dog, as the crew meander about with Dumont, trying to work out if she is telling the truth. There are one or two hints that Britto might take his film into thriller territory, and you sense he would have handled the material well if he had. Sadly, he retreats into a holding pattern of one-note jokes involving the voice-over so that the action, like the film-within-the-film, runs out of steam.

There is a lot of potential in Britto's original idea - but it would have worked best as a short or an episode of a satirical series rather than being stretched to feature length.

Reviewed on: 27 Oct 2016
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Mockumentary about a whistleblower on the lam in Argentina.

Director: Bernardo Britto

Writer: Bernardo Britto

Starring: Camille Rutherford, Wyatt Cenac, James Benson, Martin Anderson, Sarah Willis, Enrique Dura

Year: 2016

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: US


Sundance 2016

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