Dodd probably will not be blurbing this film, considering two of the major
characters run a business illegally downloading music and movies for
clients. It might not exactly run to Harold
Bloom’s tastes either, even though it is sort-of kind-of uses Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as a jumping off point.
Unfortunately, the Bard’s language is more prominent than the spirit of
his classic comedy in Matías Piñeiro’s postmodern riff Viola (trailer
screens as a selection of this year’s New Directors/New Films, co-presented by
MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
it is hard to imagine a bad production of Twelfth
Night. Trevor Nunn’s 1996 film
adaptation is an underappreciated jewel.
New Yorkers have also been blessed with many memorable stage
productions, including Julia Stiles’ luminous turn in the 2002 season of Shakespeare
in the Park and the Pearl Theatre’s characteristically elegant 2009 staging. Considering it boasts separated twins,
mistaken identity, cross-dressing, star-crossed love triumphant, and the
humbling of authority, if Twelfth Night doesn’t
work for you, you’re on your own. Yet, Piñeiro
incorporates almost none of this rich but frothy material into his contemporary
collection of intersecting Altmanesque characters.
is indeed a Shakespeare production being mounted here, but instead of Twelfth Night it is sort of a greatest
hits compendium. At least, we will hear
Viola carrying Duke Orsino’s message of love to Lady Olivia, in the guise of
his trusted page boy. In fact, we will
hear the scene over and over. For contemporary audiences, the gender-bending
aspects of Twelfth Night take on
added significance and this is largely what Piñeiro latches onto. After witnessing the performance, we then
watch the actress playing Olivia helping a prospective new Viola rehearse her
lines. However, this new Viola gets a
bit carried away by Shakespeare’s words of amour.
she bids a hasty retreat, Piñeiro shifts his attention to the real title
character. Although not yet part of the
ensemble, several associations link Viola to their circle. While making her bootleg deliveries, she
encounters two cast-members who recruit her for the production, even as they belittle
her passive approach to life. Arguably,
Viola the modern day Buenos Aires Bohemian is more like her Shakespearean
namesake’s twin brother Sebastian, who essentially has wedded bliss with a
high-born lady handed to him on a silver platter. Piñeiro’s Viola has even fallen in with a
pirate, so to speak.
the film ends with a jam, which is cool. Unfortunately, the sixty some minutes it
takes to get there are a bit of chore. Piñeiro’s
variations on his theme quickly become repetitive and provide little to
emotionally engage viewers. Cerebral and
maddeningly self-conscious, Viola is
more like the anti-Twelfth Night. It screens this Wednesday (3/27) and the
Walter Reade Theater and this Friday (3/29) at MoMA.
Labels: Argentine Cinema, ND/NF '13, Shakespeare on film, Twelfth Night