Cine Las Americas 2012
By Don Simpson | April 30, 2012
Director: Martín Boulocq
Writers: Martín Boulocq, Rodrigo Hasbun
Starring: Andrea Camponovo, Fabricio Camponovo, Roberto Guilhon, Julio Iglesias
Writer-director Martín Boulocq’s The Parents begins with harrowing black-and-white footage of an execution in the Bolivian desert in the 1970s. We might never realize it, but this is meant to place The Parents into a political and historical context. We are also led to assume that Tono’s (Roberto Guilhon) parents were included in this political execution — an trauma that still haunts Tono to this day.
That is essentially what The Parents is about — the long-lasting repercussions of a tyrannical military regime, specifically the mental aftershocks suffered by second-generation victims of oppression. Avoiding dialog, for the most part, Boulocq conveys the meaning of his oblique film in feeling alone. (It seems to be an eternity before any dialogue appears.) The narrative is all but stagnant, taking the notion of “slow cinema” to a nearly incomprehensible extreme. The most “action” occurs when the characters are in transitional moments — both literally (they drive from point A to point B) and figuratively (their lives change as their surrounding environment changes). For example, there are long scenes of Tono traveling to the home of his aunt Lucia (Charo Penarrieta) and uncle Mario (Julio Iglesias); soon thereafter, Tono’s cousin Ana (Andrea Camponovo) makes a similar journey. Tono and Ana are much different people when they are around each other — in a rare moment of expository dialogue, we are informed that Ana and Tono may have been lovers. (Ana has a son [Fabrizzio Camponovo] who might be Tono’s.)
Though a beautiful and transcendentally cinematic experience, The Parents relies on its meditative qualities to confounding levels. I admire and respect Boulocq’s approach to filmmaking, but he pushes the meaning of his images beyond the point of recognition — maybe the film will make more sense to Latin American (especially Bolivian) audiences?