Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Whisky (2004)

The next time you get one of those irresistible cravings for an oddball comedy from Uruguay, this esoteric adventure will nicely fill the bill. “Whiskey” is about the life of a middle-aged owner of a dingy textiles factory (Andres Pazos) whose clunky, sputtering knitting machines are devoted entirely to the production of rather odd-looking argyle socks.

When his sophisticated and more successful Brazilian brother Herman (Jorge Bolani) comes for a visit, confirmed bachelor Pazos orders his frumpy but devoted assistant Marta (Mirella Pascual) to “help out”. In other words, pose as his wife and present a veneer of happiness and normalcy. Marta, who has secretly adored Pazos for years, is pleased to comply, and it’s clear she is willing to carry out this charade to a degree far beyond her boss’s comfort zone.

Much of the film’s subtle humor is a result of this conflict, as Pazos quietly struggles to keep Marta’s expectations in check. The threesome eventually visit a deserted, out of season beach resort, and romance finally begin to smolder, but in a surprising and poignant way. The film is pleasingly underplayed and moves at a languid pace, but possibly drags on just a few minutes too long. Yet, within this eccentric construction, there are moments of genuine humor, pathos and empathy.

By the way, “whisky” is a smile-producing word, apparently used by Uruguayan photographers instead of “cheese”. And if you’re a fan of unorthodox foreign comedies, I predict this film will have you smiling as well.

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