EIFF: La Piscina (2011)

Our strikingly imperfect protagonists

Frail in neither body nor mind

*

INTRODUCTION. Adolescent years span over some of the most difficult, awkward moments of our lives. La Piscina serves to remind us of this through a glimpse into the day of four handicapped students and their once-famous swimming instructor over a school holiday. It is a strange and stark set up, the thunderstorm at the film’s onset hinting at emotions sleeping deep underneath stagnant bodies

CHARACTERS. Major points here. Each personality is idiosyncratic and hopelessly uneasy- particularly the youths who are reluctant slaves to their hearts, minds and expectations. The first close-up shot of a character’s face caught me off guard with its vivid aesthetic; it felt like a startling slap of imperfection and beauty all at once. I found out later that the young persons are not seasoned actors at all, which made their performances all the more impressive and raw. There is so little dialogue in La Piscina but so much going on between each character that we are able to infer without an explicit script. I was also charmed by the only adult protagonist who almost acts as an anthropologist- interfering primarily in subtle, casual gestures.

STORY. It isn’t a riveting plot- no, La Piscina is instead affecting. The film runs for approximately an hour, yet drags by embodying the slow and heated afternoon that the characters steadily undergo. We are never treated to the details of the dynamic between them but our imaginations – fuelled by personal experiences – leap to compensate with ease. That is the point. The setting is minimalist and isolated, receiving a few external influences while much of the interaction is filmed by happenstance sighting. What happens offscreen is up for speculation.

CONCLUSION. Moreso than many of us can understand, the youths of La Piscina are outsiders because of their handicaps. Regardless it is evident that they go through all the motions of being young: the love, pain, social pressures and personal grievances. It can be difficult to watch at certain scenes and yet worth it simply for being a beautifully shot film with a coarse, vulnerable heart.

*

Yours Truly,

N

CHARACTERS: 9/10
STORY: 7/10
REWATCH FACTOR: 6/10
OVERALL: 7.5/10
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