Lake Tahoe

"Very Good"

Lake Tahoe Review


Far too wilfully quirky for mainstream audiences, this dry Mexican comedy-drama has enough charm to thoroughly engage more adventurous viewers with its deceptively simple story of a boy and his car.

Juan (Catano) is a teen who has driven his car into a pole, then can't find anyone to help fix it. At one mechanic's shop, an old man (Herrera) diagnoses the problem, but then takes a nap. So Juan goes to a shop to buy the part, where he meets a hilariously distracted clerk (Valentine) and her king fu-obsessed coworker (Lara), who offers to help. But nothing goes smoothly, and throughout the day Juan finds time to check in on his little brother (Sefani), revealing more about what's going on in Juan's life.

Eimbcke tells this story in a stripped-down filmmaking style, giving us no back story or reference points, and limiting interaction to virtually monosyllabic dialog (there's only one oblique reference to the title). Everyone on screen moves at the slow pace of the film itself, baking in the Yucatan sunshine. And as the story progresses, we begin to understand the reality of Juan's situation, and that his journey on this day is about something far more important than getting his car repaired.

The side characters becomes an intricate part of Juan's experience as he encounters each one at various times of the day, including a feisty dog and a fussy baby. And as we learn more about Juan, Catano's quietly expressive performance takes on surprising meaning, especially as he's confronted with things that are goofy or wrenching, exciting or scary. His internalised emotions reach the surface slowly but surely, and Eimbcke cleverly undercuts any sentimentality with surprising wit.

From the very beginning, Eimbcke uses static shots and blackout scenes of varying length to punctuate or propel the story. Much of the "action" happens out of sight, although we do hear it. And while this is sometimes witty or provocative, it can also feel a bit cheap. The minimalism is also somewhat distancing, since it keeps us outside of the story and interaction. Although what we do see, even when there's no dialog, is extremely involving--from hilariously offhanded comedy to strong emotional resonance.



Lake Tahoe

Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th November 2008

Distributed by: Film Movement

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Fernando Eimbcke

Producer: Christian Valdelièvre

Starring: Diego Cataño as Juan, Héctor Herrera as Don Heber, Daniela Valentine as Lucia, Juan Carlos Lara as David, Yemil Sefani as Joaquin, Olda López as David's mother, Mariana Elizondo as Mother of Juan and Joaquín, Joshua Habid as Fidel

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