El Hombre del Futuro (2019) *** Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2019

July 3rd, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Felipe Rios Fuente; Cast: Antonia Giesen, Jose Soza, Maria Alche, Roberto Farias; Chile 2019, 96 min.

Director/co-writer Felipe Rios Fuente’s debut feature is beautiful to look at, but based on a rather misplaced ideology. Somehow his melancholic defence of absent fathers, caught up in their so-called independence, sticks a the throat: even in Chile, country of machismo, a little more honesty would be welcome.

We meet Elena (Giesen) at high school in Cochrane, north Chile, were she discusses her future with a friend. Not much of an academic Elena has set her heart on professional boxing. Sadly this becomes a pipe dream when she heads down south to a match in the wilderness of Patagonia. Meanwhile her biological father Michelsen (Soza), whom she has not seen since her childhood, is coming to the end of his life. He seems resigned to his fate setting off on his final trip taking sheep to Patagonia and on the way picks up a young hitchhiker, Maxi (Alche). At the same time Cuatro Dedos (Farias) picks up Elena. ‘Four Fingers’ is a younger version of Michelsen, he knows that Elena is Michelsen’s daughter, whom he holds in near mythical regard. Somehow, via the hauler’s radio system, Elena sends a message to her father. He arrives in time to see her beaten up in the ring by Patagona, a much heavier woman, who is supported by the local crowd. Elena and Michelsen now travel together, deliver the sheep, and try to come to terms with their relationship. Michelsen insists he never gave up being Elena’s father, but she reminds him he never knew her at all. Fuente insists on a reconciliation, but his pleas are hollow.

The beauty of the wilderness of Patagonia is captured on spectacular widescreen images by DoP Eduardo Bunster. Fuente’s opaque choice of the title is as superfluous as his insistence that old men should be forgiven for leaving their families. Four Finger and his hero Michelsen want their freedom and independence to roam the country, but leave the responsibility of childcare to the abandoned wives. They might talk about love for those left behind, but the words are empty. Elena’s dislocation is a result of her father’s negligence, and however hard Fuente tries to romanticise their relationship, his choice of independence has certainly created her emotional insecurity. AS

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EAST OF WEST COMPETITION | KARLOVY VARY FILM FESTIVAL 2019

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