Starring Bérénice Bejo. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable
A restful retreat is what everyone is looking for in a rare family get-together at the remote hacienda that shares a name with this low-key Argentine drama. It’s not what they get, because the place is a repository for more secrets and lies than any one home, or movie, can carry.
Things centre on sisters who haven’t seen each other in a while. Mia and Eugenia look remarkably alike, thanks to actors Martina Gusmán and Bérénice Bejo, respectively. They’re so close, in fact, they even masturbate together, setting off incestuous alarm bells that actually lead to a different kind of fire. Best-known for her lead in The Artist, Bejo lives in France, and so does Eugenia, with her husband, Vincent (Venezuela’s Édgar Ramírez, who played Gianni Versace in American Crime Story). This doesn’t stop Mia from boffing her sib’s hubby when the occasion arises, while Eugenia has one-offs with handsome family friend Esteban (Joaquín Furriel)—leading to some creepy confusion when the Parisian announces her pregnancy.
The only folks not shtupping in this scenario are their parents (Graciela Borges and Isidoro Tolcachir), seen cruelly fighting before Dad has a stroke just as the family is reunited. This leaves the girls baffled and Mom in charge, resulting in more conflicts, since Eugenia is clearly the favoured daughter. We eventually learn why, and it involves the wealthy family’s twisted sexual politics and Argentina’s recent history, which has left unmentionable scars.
Writer-director Pablo Trapero has been down this path before, most notably with 2004’s goofier Rolling Family, which put one clan’s social dysfunction on the road. This outing simply tries to cram too much well-acted bad behaviour into closed spaces. And many viewers will simply want to escape before their troubles are over.
On a technical note, the Quietude I caught had all of its double-decker subtitles in the wrong order—reading from bottom to top—forcing one to translate the translation. I blame the dictatorship.