Ensemble Filmmaking at its Finest
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Adolfo Aristarain is one of those rare filmmakers who defines his own world in cinema by writing and directing terrific stories with brilliant dialogue and using a familiar cadre of actors who give the finished product an ensemble effort. He is one of Argentina's finest artists and couples frequently with writer Kathy Saavedra (Roma, Un lugar en el mundo, Lugares communes, Martín (Hache), etc) and elects to use the extraordinary actors from Argentina such as Federico Luppi. Cecilia Roth, Juan Diego Botta and Eusebio Poncela. The results are stunning motion pictures that while addressing the intellect of the audience never fail to entertain as well.
'Martín (Hache)' is just such a film. With a challenging and wise script and a cadre of fine actors in every role Aristarain has created a poignant, philosophical and superlative character study about people and their need for relating in the world as we have altered it today. Martín (the brilliant Federico Luppi) is a wealthy writer who left his family in Buenos Aires five years ago to live and work in Madrid. He has a nineteen year old son Hache (Juan Diego Botta) - Hache is the Spanish pronunciation for the alphabet letter 'J' and since the son's name is Martin J. he elects to be called J or Hache - who is a restless, foundationless teenager who refuses to go to school preferring to simply play his electric guitar and run with the drug crowd. His mother has remarried and has a new baby and Hache is feeling like a third wheel. He accidentally overdoses on alcohol and drugs during a performance, collapses, and his mother notifies Martín that Hache has attempted suicide to induce Martín to return to Buenos Aires and take back his son Hache. Hache of course recovers and his mother insists that Hache is in the way and that he must go to Madrid to live with Martín: Martín begrudgingly agrees.
In Madrid, Martín has been living the life of a recluse whose only contacts are his squeeze Alicia (Cecilia Roth, an actress of limitless talent), who escapes her life by an addiction to coke but loves Martín, and his best friend the bisexual actor Dante (Eusebio Poncela) who is an Epicurean living all aspects of life for the pleasures he finds. Once Hache has moved in with his distant, cold, sullen father he falls under the influence of Alicia and Dante who adore him and attempt to show him a life of sunshine in Madrid while Martín sequesters himself in his writing. How this unlikely quartet interacts, bouncing the Apollonian against the Dionysian poles of living forms the basis for the story. Hache grows to understand the spectrum of worldviews, a tragedy occurs, and the ongoing silent duel between the father and the son comes to a touching resolution.
Hearing and watching this quartet of brilliant actors is not unlike attending a performance of a fine string quartet. Aristarain keeps the long film (two hours +) moving in such a beautifully liquid flow that the story seems to take moments. But the moments are all treasures, the result of the ensemble of writing, directing, and acting. 'Martín (Hache)' is simply a brilliant film. In Spanish with English subtitles. Grady Harp, November 06
Great Movie. Amazing Dialogues. Unforgetable.
Hector Echavarria | Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional Dominican Republi | 02/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As the previous reviews have stated, the movie is mainly about the relationship between a father and a son, but what will really blow you away is the dialogue, carried mostly by the Dante (Eusebio Poncella) character, it might be shocking that the sane person in this movie is the gay "libertine" drug user, but that's part of the (hidden?) charm and message Aristarain tries to transmit.
Unfortunately though, non-spanish speaking viewers will have to cope with the usual translation problems that unfortunately take away at least 1/3 of the dialogue and half of the richness of the movie in part due to the fast pace the interactions have which I guess made them cut a lot of dialogue and resume some. But all in all, this is a great movie that you should not miss, performances are brilliant, specially Eusebio Poncella as Dante and Cecilia Roth as Alicia."
Relationships are complex.
Antonio Palacios | Perú | 08/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was the forst non-comercial movie I ever saw, a Spain/Argentina co-production directed by Adolfo Aristarain (Un lugar en el mundo, Roma). Martin (Juan Diego Botto), a confused young guy, flies to Spanish to stay with his father (Federico Luppi) after he tries to commit suicide. In Madrid he will find him, Dante (Eusebio Poncela) and Alicia (Cecilia Roth), her father lover. The story is about the complex relationships between father and son, friends, lovers: the passion, the future, the arts, the life itself. Interesting dialogues and powerful acting, specially from Cecilia Roth."
Worth hanging in there
Exene Cervenka | Melbourne, Aus | 03/01/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I initally found this difficult to get involved in but I hung in there and found it to be quite worthwhile to watch. It pulls no punches and shows people and their relationships with each other warts and all.We are all human and all fallible and everyone struggles with what they are unsure of. Made me think. I like that. If you give it a go, hang in there if you are tempted not to."