Another stalker story, no, not about you or your neighbor, or a Hollywood meet-rude, but a small, scruffy minimalist comedy from Uruguay, which also won in the 2009 Chicago International Film Festival’s New Director’s competition. In writer-director Adrián Biniez’s debut feature, he follows Jara (Horacio Camandule), a shy, portly supermarket security guard who works overnight in a Montevideo suburb as he discovers dorky 25-year-old cleaning woman Julia (Leonor Svarcas) and begins to spy on her and then follow her. While classical Hollywood comedies often deal with similar plot devices, in front of a bank of monitors, there’s an instant queasiness. Yet Biniez is astute enough to realize the story he’s telling in his deadpan comedy; as he puts it, “This film is not about the beginning of a relationship, but about what precedes it. A stage where what he knows about her is little more than an image: a big question mark he wishes to decipher.” Camandule’s portrayal of sheer boredom is memorable, too. Biniez acted with Svarcas in “Whiskey” (2004). 84m. (Ray Pride)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.