Argentina is a perennial powerhouse on the international festival circuit, and this year has been no exception. Just last week, director Gastón Solnicki’s latest feature, Kékszakállú (Bluebeard), premiered as part of the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons section before moving on to Toronto where it is playing as part of the festival’s avant-garde showcase, Wavelengths.
Solnicki had already made a name for himself in highbrow film circles with his previous documentary features Papirosen and Süden, but Bluebeard represents the Porteño’s first foray into fiction filmmaking. The 72-minute feature is a free adaptation of the Hungarian opera from which it takes its unpronounceable title, but don’t expect to find too much in the way of plot from this idiosyncratic coming-of-age story.
Bluebeard starts out following a group of upper-middle class vacationers in the dog days of summer, then moves back to the chaotic streets of Buenos Aires where it follows a diverse cast of young characters as they cook octopus, make house keys, and jump off a high dive. It’s all stewed up with a touch of absurd comedy a lazy rhythm that lets events unfold in unhurried real time.
Directors of Photograph Fernando Lockett and Diego Poleri opt for static shots that take in the geometric patterns of Buenos Aires’ cityscape, while maintaining a critical distance from the film’s subjects. It may not be the easiest film to process, but like Solnicki’s previous work, a sensitive eye toward Bluebeard’s daring experiments inform will surely satisfy film lovers from Buenos Aires to Venice, and soon Toronto.