Time Out New York Project: Issue #710, May 7-May 13, 2009
Dir. Carlos Sorin. 2008. N/R. 85mins. In Spanish, with subtitles. Antonio Larreta, María del Carmen Jiménez, Roberto Rovira.
Carlos Sorin’s The Window details the last day in the life of elderly Argentine writer Antonio (Larreta), whose impending death prompts a hazy remembrance of things past. It’s less Marcel Proust than Malcolm Lowry lite. (Imagine Under the Volcano reconceived with mostly heavy-handed magical realist touches and no alcoholic stupors.) Bookending the film is worn-and-torn black-and-white footage of a pale ghost beckoning Antonio to the Great Beyond. This rather trite visualization is made all the more banal by comparison with the many ravishing images Sorin and cinematographer Julián Apezteguia capture in the movie proper.
Sunlight and shadow play off the many surfaces of the dusky country home where Antonio lies on his deathbed and is cared for by two exasperated servants (Jiménez and Emilse Roldán). A piano tuner (Rovira) provides some off-key accompaniment throughout, and Antonio’s emotionally distant son (Jorge Diaz) makes a late magic-hour appearance with his cell-phone-toting wife (Carla Peterson). But the strongest passage is the old man’s defiant sojourn into the nearby fields, a sequence as evocative as any from one of Sorin’s stated, and superior, inspirations: Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries.—Keith Uhlich