From first-time director Vladimir Durán comes Adiós entusiasmo (So Long Enthusiasm), a family drama with an odd twist. A young boy named Axel (Camilo Castiglione) lives in Buenos Aires, cared for by his three adult sisters. Despite being mostly concerned with their own affairs, they attempt to make time for Axel and to indulge his childish fantasies.
However, this gruffly affectionate family hides a strange secret; they keep their mother locked in a distant room of their apartment. This unseen woman, who is eventually revealed to be named Margarita, exists only as a petulant voice from the other side of the wall. Her regular complaints and peevish comments provide a constant soundtrack to the mundane existence of the siblings. Despite a relatively short running time, Durán does a good job of developing the distinct personalities of the family members. The eldest, Antonia (Mariel Fernandez), is sour and cynical. The middle sister, Alicia (Laila Maltz), is obsessed with the tragic celebrities of Hollywood’s golden age, reciting the misfortunes of Vivien Leigh and Judy Tyler with an almost religious reverence. Both dumpy and plain, they often argue with the more carefree and glamorous younger sister (Martina Juncadella).
Axel is quiet and sensitive, often finding himself lost between his three dominant sisters. He spends much of his time at the back of the apartment, talking to his mother. Grainy home videos suggest a happier time now long gone, and little explanation is given as to how the family managed to enmesh themselves in this situation. Margarita herself seems to have a storied past; all her children have different fathers, none of whom are currently in the picture. The desaturated colour and claustrophobic close-ups turn the cramped flat into a prison for all of the characters, not just the mother. All visitors to the house seem to take her imprisonment as the norm. So Long Enthusiasm is a surreal movie with little message or plot, but Durán directs with the assuredness of an experienced auteur.
This Colombian-Argentinian film is just one of many from Latin America making waves at both home and American and European festivals and markets. The Berlin Film Festival is the latest event to showcase numerous features from all corners of the continent, which this year range from creative genre pieces to gritty contemporary realist dramas.
Adiós entusiasmo (So Long Enthusiasm) does not have a UK release date yet.
For further information about the 67th Berlin Film Festival visit here.