Cine Las Americas 2011
By Don Simpson | May 3, 2011
Director: Matías Bize
Writers: Matías Bize, Julio Rojas
Starring: Santiago Cabrera, Blanca Lewin
Andrés (Santiago Cabrera) is a 30-something Chilean-born travel writer who now finds himself based in Berlin. Back in Santiago after being away for 10 years, Andrés has returned to the city of his youth long enough to take care of some personal business, including dropping by a birthday party. While his friends are all married with children, they attack (if not partially out of jealousy) Andrés’ free-wheeling bachelorhood. A constant analogy that other characters make is that Andrés has lived his entire life like a tourist or day-tripper, never becoming too attached to his surroundings; but other than his career’s inherent allusion of freedom, Andrés does not seem too keen on living his life in airports, airplanes and hotels.
It soon becomes apparent that Andrés left something — specifically someone — behind when he moved away from Santiago 10 years ago. That certain someone is Bea (Blanca Lewin), who has since moved on with her life (similar to Andrés’ other friends, Bea now has a family). But eventually, Andrés and Bea start talking about what might have been. The discussion progresses to a point that Bea appears to be considering running off to Berlin with Andrés, but to tell you anything more would be spoiling way too much…
Filmed in one location — a single family home in Santiago — The Life of Fish apparently adopts its title from the fish tanks that the camera often finds itself peering through. The characters are perceived to be caged specimens, trapped on the silver screen with the audience watching and listening to even their most intimate discussions. This is where writer-director Matías Bize truly succeeds, as the scenarios play out like home movies with extremely natural dialogue and actions. Bize also seems to specialize in frank discussions about sex — or at least “mature situations”, as the MPAA would deem them. Come to think of it, to call Bize the Chilean Joe Swanberg would probably not be too far of a stretch.
Unfortunately, there is just something about the production values of The Life of Fish — the cinematography and/or lighting, as well as the sound recording — that just screams Latin American soap opera to me. That said — The Life of Fish is definitely the best Latin American soap opera I have ever watched. Admittedly, my enjoyment is at least partially related to [purely non-physical] similarities between myself and Andrés.
Winner of the Best Latin American Feature award at the 2011 Goya Awards, The Life of Fish was showcased as the closing night film of the 14th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival.