Hermia & Helena
6th October 2016 6.15pm at Curzon Mayfair
7th October 2016 2.45pm at Vue West End
12th October 2016 6.30pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream interpreted through the eyes of an Argentinean in New York City, Hermia & Helena is the story of Camila (Agustina Muñoz), a young linguist from Buenos Aires who travels to the Big Apple to translate the Shakespeare’s classic into Spanish for a residency program. The film is the work of writer and director Matias Piñeiro who was inspired by his own experience living in New York.
The title, Hermia & Helena, refers to the literary characters who are transported from 1600 to contemporary New York and Buenos Aires in this unpretentious adaptation. Piñeiro’s storyline is very natural and free-form; he is often compared to auteurs such as Jacques Rivette and Éric Rohmer, and his theme of youth experimenting with love echoes French New Wave.
With frequent flashbacks, mainly to Buenos Aires, the movie follows the story of Camila who becomes involved with traces of Carmen’s (María Villar) world, translates Shakespeare and blithely changes from one boyfriend to the next. We see snippets of Camila’s life encounters, like vignettes: with friends new and old, lovers, and a first time meeting with her real father. A talented actress, Muñoz is subtly playful and mysterious, becoming one with her text, illustrated by the superimposing of translations on the screen.
The opening wide-angle shot of New York sets the scene and the tone with detailed views of lower Manhattan; a city whose personality is so strong it speaks for itself (one reason for its popularity as a filming location). Long shots are used and landscapes are beautifully portrayed, both elements not so much employed in Piñeiro’s previous films. However, visual appeal sometimes wavers and the sound is occasionally jarring.
How you approach this work could depend on perspective. In terms of basic narrative, it seems to lack of cohesiveness, on the other hand, if viewed from a perspective of French cinema – as art – the meandering could be part of its charm. It is one of those films that should be carefully examined to absorb its details and full meaning, thus viewed a second time. Sparking contemplation and curiosity like a Buñuel movie, Hermia & Helena inspires exploration.
Hermia & Helena does not have a UK release date yet.
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