Things The Way They Are


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Things The Way They Are
"The film doesn't really go anywhere but is nonetheless effective as a piece of contemplative art."

Most people who have lived in rental accommodation will have had at least one experience with a bad landlord. Some neglect their properties, some bully tenants, but the most discomfiting by far are the creepy ones, people who have access to one's most private spaces and whose motives may be predatory. Complicating this further, for those still willing to put concern for others ahead of their own safety, is the fact that such individuals may equally well just be socially incompetent - odd, emotionally disconnected types who spend their lives vaguely wondering why they have no friends.

Sanna (Ragni Orsal Skogsrod) is a bright, vivacious young Norwegian who has travelled to Chile to help street children and who is sure she has enough love in her for every injured soul. Her sweet and trusting nature brings out protective instincts in her new landlord, Jerónimo (Cristóbal Palma), a man who is borderline obsessive about looking out for danger in the world. Jerónimo has lived in the same house all his life and only goes outside when he has to. This, in turn, arouses protective instincts in Sanna, and she grows determined to bring him out of his shell. But when she's not there, he goes through her room, looking at her childhood photographs, smelling her clothes.

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A portrait of the relationship between these two very different people, Things The Way They Are pits their different views of the world against each other, refusing to come down on one side or the other. There are hints that Sanna may, in her own way, pose a danger to Jerónimo, or at least to the life he values and the belief structures that make it bearable. Her opinions about the behaviour and attitudes of Chileans more generally hint at the frustrations of a tourist who has only just realised she is still in the real world, and she never seems to consider what growing up under Pinochet might have done to them, quite unaware of the privilege that has enabled her own lightheartedness.

Counterpointing its atmosphere of threat with bright, sunny visuals and a tour of bustling, modern Santiago, the film doesn't really go anywhere but is nonetheless effective as a piece of contemplative art. Palma manages to convey an impressive depth of character from behind one of the largest beards in cinema history, and Skogsrod is clearly more than just a pretty face. This is a curious piece of work as distinctive and hard to get at as its distant protagonist.

Reviewed on: 18 Feb 2014
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Jerónimo is a mistrustful loner who rents out rooms to foreigners without respecting their privacy. His life is turned upside down when the beautiful Sanna, a Norwegian, comes to stay. Jerónimo starts to come out of his shell but then he discovers that the girl is hiding something in his house.…

Director: Fernando Lavanderos

Starring: Cristóbal Palma, Ragni Orsal Skogsrod, Isaac Arriagada

Year: 2012

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: Chile

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