Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Familial Comedy from Uruguay

Tanta Agua (2013) - Guevara, Jorge
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Alberto (Néstor Guzzini), a schlubby divocé takes his two unenthused children, Lucia (Málu Chouza) and Federico (Joaquín Castiglioni) on a road trip from Montevideo to a famed hot spring. The problem is, when they get there, the pool is closed because of an electric storm. Then the kids are surprised to find out that the motel room they are staying at doesn't even have a TV. But dad is determined to have some quality time with the kids. Not even torrential downpour won't stop his plans. But much to Al's annoyance, kids only want to eat what their mom packed for them and play with kids their own age. Al's idea of easy-peasy-lemon-squeazy vacation becomes difficult-difficult-lemon-difficult.

As the focus of the film moves from Al to Lu, Tanta Agua becomes a sort of an adolescent summer fling story. A sullen preteen with braces, Lu embodies a normal girl of her age who is not yet rebellious but not so keen on taking trips with her parent. She is discovering boys and cigarette. She befriends with another vacationing girl Suzanna and starts flirting with a hunky boy with a bike. But she soon finds out that the boy is using her to get closer to prettier Suzanna. After the boy asks her to come to the local disco and bring her pretty friend along, Lu lies to Al and ditches her friend so she can go to the disco alone.

Uruguayan directors Ana Guevara and Letitia Jorge acutely observes the normal modern family dynamics. The devil is in the details- Al secretly dumps mom's sandwiches while the kids are sleeping, Lu finds string of condoms in Al's suitcase, Lu's wearing her best friend's flaming high tops.

Tanta Agua is a light, gentle comedy that speaks universal language. But it's not Little Miss Sunshine. There are no big revelations here- no one acts out in frenzy or learns life altering lessons. It just has subtly drawn characters who are real and have normal problems. The film is a fine tuned familial comedy full of awkward moments but also great deal of tenderness.

Tanta Agua garnered top prizes at Miami International Film Fest last year, played as part of Latin Beat 2013 and will be available on DVD and VOD on May 13 in North America by Film Movement. Please visit Film Movement website for more information.