Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
A riveting, endlessly inventive plunge down the rabbit hole of cinematic narrative, this Argentinean epic is a shaggy dog tale, equal parts modernist yarn and noirish mystery.
“‘Extraordinary’ is by no means an immodest moniker for this incredibly audacious first dramatic feature by Argentine director Mariano Llinás, which suggests a telenovela co-scripted by Thomas Pynchon and Jorge Luis Borges… The three primary story lines (though there are countless others) concern men known only as X, Z and H, respectively, each of them minor bureaucratic functionaries in nondescript towns on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, who find themselves tossed by circumstance into unexpectedly complicated adventures.
The first man witnesses a murder (before committing one himself); the second scours the countryside for clues about his predecessor, an international man of mystery with a possible sideline in illegal wildlife trafficking; the third travels up river in search of the large stone ‘monoliths’ he has been hired to photograph. Each thread is a mini road movie of a sort, although like the film’s whimsical (and perhaps unreliable) omniscient narrator, Llinás shows markedly greater interest in the journeys than in the destinations.
Stories give way to other stories – some comic, some tragic, some romantic – which are themselves riddled with dreams and flashbacks, until we no longer care if we will ever reach the end, for so pleasurably intoxicating is the air of elaborate narrative gamesmanship. Don’t let the four-hour running time deter you: there is nary a dull moment here, or one devoid of visual or storytelling invention.” — Scott Foundas, LA Weekly