A film by Gastón Solnicki
(Argentina, 2016, 71 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Hailed as "an eerie high-modernist fable... mightily minimalist, and drop-dead gorgeous" (Olaf Möller, Film Comment), Kékszakállú is an beguiling portrait of several young women at the threshold of adulthood, feeling their way through various crises born of the insular comforts of upper-middle-class life.
A playful tableau of spiritual seeking, the film is comprised of moments that seem to have been drawn from memory, with an elliptical musicality that moves according to forms, colors, sounds, and states of being. The status quo of boredom and leisure is challenged by the vicissitudes of Argentina’s economic malaise, forcing the offspring of this vanishing upper class to extricate themselves from the grips of familial privilege.
True to Solnicki’s non-fiction roots, and with a painterly mise-en-scène, the film presents a documentary-like exposure of the quotidian while suggesting possibilities for redemption among this brood of the weary. There is no protagonist in Kékszakállú, rather several young women blanketed under layers of sunlit lassitude and politely tamped down discomfort. Yet, this is a joyful experience, moving inexorably toward liberation.
Partly inspired by Béla Bartók’s sole opera, Bluebeard’s Castle (vivid passages are heard throughout the film), Kékszakállú radically transposes the portent of Bluebeard’s Castle into something far less recognizable: a tale of generational inertia, situated between the alternating and precisely rendered tableaux of work and relaxation in Buenos Aires and Punta del Este.
Named as one of the Best Undistributed Films of 2016 by Film Comment and IndieWire, selected as one of Artforum's ten best films of 2016 by James Quandt, and an official selection at the Venice, Toronto, and New York film festivals, Kékszakállú will open on Friday, August 25, at Facets Cinémathèque in Chicago.