Sidewalls

Sidewalls is very genuinely touching, funny, and smart romantic comedy. The characters at one point watch Woody Allen’s brilliant film Manhattan during one scene, and the comparison is actually quite valid. The wonderful thing about it is, however, that the filmmakers doesn’t attempt to make a Buenos Aires version of the film, but instead finds its own subject. The subject is that of separation – the main characters, a web designer and an architect, struggle to find human connections.

Martin (Javier Drolas), the web designer, is something of a shut-in. While he does leave his apartment building occasionally, he does not drive and refuses to take public transit. He finds it difficult to connect to people, and is withdrawn into a world of computer games, television, and internet. He does everything he can, including having relationships, over the web. Across a few thin walls, lives Mariana (Pilar Lopez de Ayala), an architect employed designing store window displays. She also has trouble with relationships with other people, having recently undergone a break-up. She finds that the city planning is based on the concept of separating people. The majority of the film chronicles their near-misses in meeting, and the parallels in their lives making it clear that they are, in some way, destined to come together.

Gustavo Taretto, writer and director of this film, blends animation, photography, and seemingly every other visual medium to create this story, while still maintaining a firm grasp of the basics of feature filmmaking. The style created is therefore deeply original, yet somehow comfortably familiar. This is his first foray into feature film, and with a debut like this he is certainly a young artist to watch for in the future.

The lead actors deliver exceptionally strong performances in this. While the characters are self-admitted recluses, the film truly chronicles their attempts to get out into the society and build relationships with people. The people they encounter, however, are either emotionally distant or often simply uninteresting. This dynamic, the characters’ constant attempts to “get out there”, therefore, allow them to be much more than merely unsociable neurotics.

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