SAT 15TH OCTOBER – 9 PM CINÉ LUMIÈRE
Written, directed and starring Mathieu Demy, Americano is a French-American-Spanish affair that deals with grief, lost memories and the urge to run from it all, and it is supremely clear throughout just how personal this project is. Although this is Demy’s debut picture behind the camera, he seems to have inherited his father’s eye – New Wave director Jacques Demy -for detail and composition, as this is a fantastically well-executed globe-trotting drama.
Martin (Demy) and his partner Claire’s (Chiara Mastroianni) relationship is falling apart and both feel trapped by each other’s presence. Martin soon must to flee Paris and head to Los Angeles where he is forced to come to terms with the sad death of his beloved mother. After experiencing distressing memories of his conflict-laden childhood, Martin heads for Tijuana in search for the exotic and beautiful Lola (Selma Hayek), a dancer who had a special relationship with his mother. As more information surfaces, Martin must learn to stop running and confront his personal demons.
Whilst there are no particular surprises on offer here, Americano is able to supply its audience with much more than a typical ‘festival film drama’.
This is Demy’s vision, and his reality to an extent, so the film is supremely weighted and emotionally challenging. To aid the sense of realism, faux home videos and camcorder scenes, dotted throughout, thankfully leave maniac shaky-cam techniques out. Some of the childhood footage of the relationship between Martin and his mother are heart-breaking. His script boasts polished dialogue and his direction feels fluent and balanced – you would struggle to believe this man has never shot a feature before. Granted, the camera techniques are not majorly advanced, but his framing and mise-en-scene is impeccably detailed thus making Americano a diverting watch. It’s also fair to expect beautiful cinematography when dealing with multiple locations. This expectation is fulfilled – the scenes in Tijuana are at times rather breathtaking.
The film’s performances are tight too and it is wonderful to see a high-profile but infrequent talent like Hayek attached to this low-budget affair.
It might not be the most rumoured title of the LFF but it certainly is an interesting and deep one. Demy’s career is on the right track to start something big, Americano was a pleasant surprise at this year’s festival.