A Tale of Fate

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An emotional roller coaster that is fulfilling until the end, the philosophical drama 3:19, making its New York debut on Sunday as part of the Hola México! Film Festival, will not disappoint you. The directorial debut of Dany Saadia and beautifully edited, 3:19 explores how 3 friends in their mid-twenties deal with the trials and tribulations that occur after a set of coincidences.  The trio: Ilan (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), Eric (Félix Gómez), and Andy (Juan Díaz) are casually introduced as they flirt with young women in their Valencia neighborhood. The title refers to a verse from Genesis, and this existential theme is recurrent in the movie, as it is quickly discovered that Ilan developed a terminal form of cancer.  Despite the bad news, Ilan still is hopeful for the future and able to comfort his mother Lucia (Diana Bracho) and sister Luciana (Alexandra De La Mora).

The film, a Mexican and Spanish production, does its best at keeping some secrets.  Most of the movie is spent unraveling Ilan’s final wishes.  However, Lisa (Bárbara Goenaga), an intriguing new woman in the lives of these friends appears to be skeptical of their intentions but at the end is won by them.  Yet this is not to suggest that the movie is predictable.  The plot reveals itself bit by bit, maintaining suspense. In addition, a parallel plot based on the life of 17th Century French mathematician Évariste Galois is revealed through the use of animation.  Not only does Galois’s life mirror that of Ilan, but the historical account is part of Lisa’s university thesis.

Another highlight of the film is the eloquent use of language, especially of Ilan as he accepts his fate.  Silvestre’s portrayal of Ilan is convincing in part because of the effective screenplay.  In one tear-jerking scene, Ilan bravely comforts Lucia and Luciana as they come to terms with his imminent death.  This scene could have failed if it weren’t for the brilliantly stated insight that Ilan doled out to his loved ones.  Even the narrated animated scenes with Galois contain a handful of memorable quotes that don’t fail to resonate when translated to English.  Add to this the stunning visuals, in particular, one dream-like scene in which Ilan is curled up in the fetal position on a boat, and this is a recipe for a film that stays with you long after you leave the theater.

One area that the film was lacking in was the soundtrack.  Besides Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy In New York” which was featured close to the end of the movie, there is not much music to be heard.  This might not be an entirely bad thing, as one focuses more on understanding each character’s viewpoint on fate and life.

Overall, 3:19 is worth seeing because of its dual storylines and its incredible cinematography.  The casting was a great match for revealing this unique story that describes life and love as a result of chance.  Go out and see it!

3:19 plays this Sunday at 6:00pm at the Hola México! Film Festival at Quad Cinema.