Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What on earth is going on? The title must be ironic, because there is nothing playful about Play.

Cristina (Viviana Herrera) is a lonely nurse who looks after a bedridden Hungarian in Santiago. Tristan (Andres Ulloa) is a depressed architect, who walks out on his girlfriend and quits his job. Manuel (Juan Pablo Quezada) is a simple gardener, who works for the city, maintaining shrubs in the park. Ricardo (Jorge Alis) is a professional magician and amateur gigolo, who lazes around Tristan’s blind mother’s pool. Irene (Aline Kuppenheim) is Tristan’s girlfriend, who is as tough as nuts and likes shopping and has a younger lover.

Copy picture

Cristina has the potential to be interesting, because behind those saucer eyes is a dreamy girl, who likes to play action video games at the arcade and fantasize she’s a kung-fu fighter. She has a thing about smelling people, smelling their clothes. She is weird, without being odd. She fancies Manuel until he fancies her and then she goes off the idea. “Nobody knows me,” she says. She stalks people - at first Tristan and then Irene. She’s like a character in search of an author.

No one can be as limp as Tristan and be allowed to waste so much screen time. He may be depressed and have no sex drive and sit about in bars getting paralytic and having fights with strangers, all of which he loses, but there is no excuse for being such a self-pitying mush rag, with nowhere to go but his mum’s, where he argues with Ricardo and takes full advantage of the lavish lifestyle.

Like everyone in it, the film goes nowhere, although the final scenes suggest an outcome which can only work as a dream sequence. Time is shuffled at the start, but then carries on normally. The plot (sort of) involves Tristan’s stolen briefcase, which is used as a devise to turn Cristina onto him, or, at least, start her futile stalking exercises.

In a film devoid of incident, there are two moments to savor. In the first, Cristina takes on a woman in a red trouser suit, because she is scolding her child in public, and it is shot like a martial arts video game. In the second, Tristan confronts Irene and her lover in the street and, one at a time, they hit each other in the face, like conkers with fists.

Perhaps writer/director Alicia Scherson is the real magician. She makes a film about isolation and depression that only pretends to be a wrist slasher. Behind the aimless wanderings and casual encounters is a comedy about the unrealistic desires of the human heart.

Reviewed on: 18 Jan 2007
Share this with others on...
Play packshot
Four characters in search of a lover in Chile.
Amazon link

Director: Alicia Scherson

Writer: Alicia Scherson

Starring: Viviana Herrera, Andres Ulloa, Aline Küppenheim, Coca Guazzini, Jorge Alis, Francisco Copello, Juan Pablo Quezada, Andrei Slobodianik, María José San Martín

Year: 2005

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Argentina/Chile


Search database: