The first time we saw Argentinean director Alexis Dos Santos step into the spotlight with his debut film Glue (2006) he introduced us to a world in a small desert town, a dysfunctional family, a rock band, a can of glue, two boys, one girl, lots of tongue, dry heat, and existential uneasiness. His latest artistic endeavor, Unmade Beds. follows Axl (Fernando Tielve)- a graceless and conflicted teen who, while in search for his father, comes to stay in a colorful London squat where he experiences disoriented affairs with off-beat counterparts, and Vera (Deborah Francois)- romantically afflicted, she confronts fate and experiments with a connection after meeting a new love interest.
In his second feature film, Dos Santos continues to challenge an inclination towards rationalism. Unmade Beds is a beautifully shot film that explores identity and vulnerability through these two characters, and although Axl and Vera can easily be misconstrued as immature youth, the underlying theme shines through; as individuals we are in a unique position of being self determining actors. We are ultimately responsible for the authenticity of our own choices.
The 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival was blessed to have Unmade Beds’ creative contribution to this year’s festival which also provided the audience the opportunity for a brief Q&A with Dos Santos and Tielve after the final viewing. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this genuinely original director is keeping it real. Although his public speaking skills came across shaky at best, as one might expect from an introverted artist who admits to being a “hot monkey” (song from the film), Dos Santos demonstrated great humility while talking about his work.
As the story’s plot line advances and comes to an end I find myself wondering if the two main characters will even meet and was at first a little annoyed that they aren’t in fact intended to wind up together. Instead their lives seem to be linked by a series of events that will result in and inevitably connect their lives only in the smallest moment. And this turns out to be the film’s biggest appeal because it confirms the rhythm of irrationality and uncertainty of fate by disproving the expected (which of course is boring). If you like films that delve into the exploration of emotion in a artsy and unconventional way, you will definitely enjoy this film.