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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Benavidez’s Suitcase

la_valija_de_benavidez-113122979-largeMy notes on La Valija di Benavidez (Benavidez’s Suitcase)

 

It’s probably impossible for an Argentine film about art set in a labyrinth not to evoke Jorge Luis Borges … this is a wander through the torments of Pablo Benavidez (Guillermo Pfening), a teacher and artist who struggles to avoid the shadow of his lately-deceased genius painter father (Luis Tenewicki) … especially because it’s his girlfriend Beatriz (Norma Aleandro) who is hailed as the prize pupil of the elder Benavidez, and even jokes about their getting married so she could use his name.  At the home of therapist Leopolod Corrales (Jorge Marrales), Pablo undergoes a therapy which involves wandering through a generated maze of his memories getting more and more frustrated at his erasure from his father’s story and the marginalisation of his own work (which don’t see until the punchline, though his father’s sketches are all around).  There are a few deadpan surreal sequences, as Pablo tries to retrieve his eponymous suitcase from a room full of them where an attendant keeps offering him non-specific items of luggage and blithely ignoring the fact that he wants his specific case or even acknowledging that hemight have one … or wanders through the corridors of a gallery decorated with his father’s art as in a voice-over interview the great man is casually, cruelly  dismissive of his son’s importance (it seems he’s painted everyone else in his life but not Pablo) only to find the pictures disappear to leave him in a featureless grey labyrinth that seems like a PacMan game.  It’s slick and well-played, but a fragile short story-like point is stretched out even in an 80m film … the punchline might be read as misogynist, even if the director is a woman, Laura Casalé, and it’s based on a story (La Pesada Valija de Benavidez) by another, Samantha Schweblin.

 

 

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