Dolphins Go East: You only get one father
by Cristóbal Soage
- The film written, directed by and starring Uruguay’s Verónica Perrotta and Gonzalo Delgado, and co-produced with Germany, paints a cutting portrait of parent-child relationships
One of the films screening in competition at the Transilvania International Film Festival (2-11 June, Cluj-Napoca) over the next few days is Dolphins Go East [+see also:
film profile], the first directorial collaboration between Uruguay’s Verónica Perrotta and Gonzalo Delgado, both of whom are professionals who can boast extensive backgrounds in various areas of cinematic creation.
The movie revolves around Virginia (played by Perrotta herself), a teacher determined to re-establish contact with her father to tell him her big news: that he is soon to become a grandfather. But the welcome she receives from her dad is not as warm as she had been expecting. Miguel Ángel García Mazziotti (played by Jorge Deneví) is a has-been, a faded television star who tries his best to conceal his downward spiral under a ridiculous mop of dyed blonde hair. In his life, there is only room for alcohol, the young man he pays to fulfil his emotional and sexual needs, and his cat. His daughter’s unexpected appearance represents nothing more than a problem for him.
Despite the tension generated by this reunion of a father and daughter who haven’t seen each other in years, the prospect of the arrival of a new addition to the family manages to knock down the wall separating them – at least partially. Virginia insists on spending the weekend with her father and enjoying the good life with him in the resort city of Punta del Este. Over the course of a few hours, she realises that her dad’s supposed position of privilege is a far cry from reality. Behind the façade of flamboyant suits, parties held in glamorous venues and friendships with the area’s most influential people lies a man who refuses to accept that his glory days are far behind him. Instead of making him face up to reality, Virginia decides to play along in this game of false appearances and trickery, which gives rise to many a tragicomic situation, and this is where the film displays its most inspired moments.
The movie may not conduct an in-depth analysis of the ways in which human beings behave today, but it does highlight a few constants that affect us all to a greater or lesser extent: the need to always appear happy, the obsession with achieving success and our panic as we accept that beauty is a fleeting concept that succumbs to the inexorable passage of time. All of these issues are treated in rather a superficial way in the film. It is as if Perrotta and Delgado seem to want to avoid getting too serious, but that doesn’t mean they fall flat when it comes to conveying a sense of unease to the viewer, which is difficult not to identify with.
It is true that with a little more ambition and attention to detail, the movie could have succeeded in reaching new heights. But be that as it may, after watching it, you are left with the satisfaction of having spent a pleasant hour-and-a-half with a group of characters who are not so different from us in terms of their hopes, dreams and fears.
Dolphins Go East is a co-production between Uruguay, Argentina and Germany (through Pandora Filmproduktion).
(Translated from Spanish)
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