BIFF 3: Perpetuum Mobile (Mexico/Canada 2009)

Francisco and Gabino (in the yellow hat)

Perpetuum Mobile was introduced as being the best film that programmer Neil Young had seen at the San Sebastian Festival in 2009. It has its moments but overall it lacked the intensity and the riveting cinematography of Fish Eyes (see the previous post) which it in some ways resembles. Set in Mexico City, but largely shot indoors or inside the central protagonist’s van, this is another observational and slight drama about a few days in the life of a family – son Gabino (in his twenties), mother and grandmother (who lives separately from the mother-son duo). There is also an older son Miguel who doesn’t live with his mother and brother. Gabino and his mate Francisco run a removals service but spend a fair amount of time playing basketball in the back of the removals van. Their work brings them into contact with couples possibly splitting up and singles being evicted. Gabino is duped at one point and dupes someone himself. That’s about as much as I can remember. The narrative ends with a different kind of tragedy than Fish Eyes.

This is director Nicolás Pereda’s second or possibly third feature. He’s 27 and based in Canada, getting funding from Canadian public funds. The 86 minute feature was shot on a low definition video format. Festivals being what they are, this film ended up on the big screen while Fish Eyes on high def was on the small screen. Perpetuum Mobile didn’t look too bad and in a couple of scenes – such as a driving sequence with considerable lens flare across the windscreen – it even felt like an aesthetic choice. The performances were OK and Young is justified in seeing the promise offered by a director who can create interest in seemingly mundane events. Again, there is little on the soundtrack other than dialogue. This passes the time and it’s certainly about real lives, but I think most audiences are going to want something more. The film is distributed by Ondamax Films – Latin American Cinema distributors. I don’t think that the film has a UK distribution deal.

2 thoughts on “BIFF 3: Perpetuum Mobile (Mexico/Canada 2009)

  1. Sincere thanks for watching and writing about this little film which, as you mentioned, I introduced in very glowing terms.
    The general feedback has been “interesting, kind of, but too slow” and I can see why it might not be everybody’s cup of tea. In San Sebastian there were some walkouts at the screening I attended but I was somehow entranced by it, slowness and all — and certain sequences I was even rather tickled by (!).
    As I said in the intro, the picture really did linger with me for several days and I did get a lot out of it the second time on the big screen in Bradford. Sorry that you didn’t share my enthusiasm but I hope it won’t put you off any of my other programming choices over the next few days at BIFF…
    Speaking of which, do try to catch Peter Schreiner’s TOTO on Thursday afternoon at Cineworld. A friend of mine saw it at a festival in Austria the other day on my recommendation, and he e-mailed me with the comment “Best documentary – ever.”

    • I hope I didn’t sound too harsh. I have nothing against the film, simply that of the four films I saw on the day, it was the least engaging and enjoyable. On the other hand, I recognise its strengths and I’ve no doubt that this director could go on to make interesting films in the future.

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