As it is often the case, when I like a movie I immediately look on Facebook to see if there is a fan page. There wasn’t, though. So I tried with the name of the director: Marco Berger, and I found his personal page. I wrote to him, asking for friendship and telling him how crazy I was about his movie. He accepted. I became a virtual friend not only of Marco, but also of his two actors: Lucas Ferraro and Manuel Vignau. I made a post about the movie, and at the time of 2010 Zazie D’or, I happily assigned to Plan B the Zazie D’or for the Best First Feature Film and to Lucas and Manuel the award for Best Actors. When I advised them, they had the most wonderful reaction: they wrote enthusiastic messages to thank me for the prizes, even if they knew very well that those (unreal) prizes came from an unknown woman having a not famous cinema blog.
This is what I call the good things in life.
Few months ago, I read with excitement that the new movie by Marco, Ausente (Absent), was going to be screened at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival (where it actually won a “real” and important prize: the Teddy Award, the award assigned to the best movie having gay themes). I was really looking forward to seeing it and the other day, always thanks to the Festival Paris Cinéma, I had this chance.
I believe that in a director’s career, the second movie is even more important then the first one. Ausente not only confirmed Marco’s talent, but it also indicates that a new author is born!
Martin is a 16 years old guy. One day, at the end of a swimming class, he claimed to have a problem in his eyes. His coach, Sebastian, brings him first to the hospital and then home. Nobody is at Martin’s place, though, and Sebastian is obliged to let him spend the night at his apartment. It is only the next day that the teacher finds out Martin’s lie: his parents were home, waiting for him. Why Martin wanted to spend the night at his place? Which were his real intentions?
Marco Berger does something very interesting in his movies: he takes a cinema genre, and it turns it into something else. The two pictures have much in common: they start in a certain way (Plan B as a light romantic comedy, Ausente almost as a thriller) and then they both become a quest about desire and unexpected feelings. What is very particular and delicate, in Ausente, is that one of the two characters is underage. Nevertheless, even in this case, Marco reverses the usual roles. This is not the story of a teacher abusing his pupil, but quite the opposite: the most dangerous one, here, is the young guy. But it is exactly when the audience starts to believe that this is going to be a movie about a bad boy, that the film changes and enters into deepest and much troubled waters, the ones of human desires.
I love the way Marco is filming all this. His camera is ON the bodies, as if it was a little animal on the skin of Sebastian and Martin. The shots are simple, clear, essential, wrapping. And once again, the two actors are great: Javier De Pietro has the right face to portrait Martin: he is young, good looking, and his eyes can turn from innocent to seductive in a blink, while Carlos Echevarria (well known in Italy for his roles in Garage Olimpo and Hijos/Figli by Marco Bechis), with his quite and melancholic performance, let us enter into the movie in a special and privileged way.
Marco's movies have one of the greatest quality art can have: a semplicity that rimes with depth and intensity. The only thing is ausente, here, is bad and ordinary cinema.
Que viva Argentina!