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Play, April 23

49th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

Sunday, April 23, 2006
9:00 p.m. Play
Alicia Scherson (Chile, 2005)

Tristán Greenberg (Andrés Ulloa), Play's male protagonist, is beyond melancholic when his wife Irene walks out on him. He is grief-stricken. Irene (Aline Kuppenhein) does her best to coax him out of his depression, but Tristán, as if a powerless product of his name, insists: "So many things have to be sad." And, indeed, after donning his work suit, with a green shirt and orange tie, he crawls right back into bed, shoes and all. It's not just one of those days for poor Tristán, it appears to be one of those lives. Cut to Cristina (Viviana Herrera), an indigenous Mapuche girl, who takes care of the elderly and bedridden Don Milos (Francisco Copello). Through a series of random events, Tristán and Cristina's paths converge, and she becomes a silent and compassionate witness to his suffering. Yet, by losing themselves in Japanese video games, iPod tunes, and shopping, the characters inadvertently avoid what they most crave: human contact. The sequences in which the instinctive Cristina not so subtly tries to discern the actual and emotional identities of Tristán and Irene by inhaling their scents add a humanizing element to her diffuse and complex world dominated by technology and the global economy. The Italian proverb used as the film's opening epigraph, "The times were hard, but they were modern," says it all. This "urban fairy tale" about lost loves and missed connections in contemporary Santiago won director Scherson the Best New Narrative Filmmaker Award at last year's Tribeca Film Festival.

—Cathleen Rountree

• Written by Scherson. Photographed by Ricardo de Angelis. With Viviana Herrera, Andrés Ulloa, Aline Kuppenhein, Coca Guazzini. (105 mins)