2004Director: Fernando Eimbcke
Cast: Diego Cataño, Enrique Areola, Danny Perea
uck Season is the type of film that’s intensely difficult to pigeon-hole. During its 90 minutes, Fernando Eimbcke’s feature debut masquerades as a host of sub-genres: coming-of-age flick, family drama, teen comedy, and a few others for good measure. The script touches on issues of sexuality, quiet despair, and loneliness. In short, when your friends ask, “What was Duck Season about?” your response will contain a sputtering “Ummmm,” and will be quickly followed by you passing out.
Fourteen year-old Flava (Daniel Mirada) and best friend, Moko (Diego Cataño), are given the privilege of having Flava’s parents’ apartment to themselves for an entire Sunday. A full afternoon of video games, pizza, and towering glasses of Coca Cola seemingly awaits the two boys, but a few acts of God and man conspire to make the day far less routine. First, Flava’s slightly older neighbor, Rita (Danny Perea), shows up at the apartment door asking to use the oven. Flava protests momentarily because of his mother’s rules about allowing entrance to strangers, but quickly acquiesces and returns to his Halo match.
Next, a power outage plunges the boys into raging boredom, prolongs Rita’s stay in the kitchen (she must mix her cake by hand), and prompts Flava to order their pizza earlier than planned. Finally, the pizza delivery guy’s arrival touches off a dispute between said driver and the boys as to whether he delivered the pizza within the time allotted by his company’s guarantee. Delivery guy, aka Ulises (Enrique Areola), refuses to leave, claiming he took exactly 30 minutes and fulfilled the requirement for payment. The boys say he was 11 seconds late and the pizza should be free. Thus, we end up with two friends and two strangers occupying a small apartment for the duration of a lazy Sunday.
For the next few hours, the four characters gradually exchange laughs, life-stories, kisses, insults, and secrets. Action is sporadic in keeping with the setting, but as a result, the themes are advanced in a completely organic and believable manner. For instance, sexuality is introduced when Rita, combating boredom herself, plants a surprise smooch on Moko. She’s mostly toying with him in an innocent way, the girlish game of provoking a response from a male target. Rita and Moko’s ensuing interaction reveals much about the private struggles of both, but refrains from either melodrama or a Brady Bunch-esque resolution.
And so goes Duck Season, a story of what troubles we face and how we often face them alone. The film serves as a monument to understatement; honest accounts of deeply personal trials, garnished with helpings of ambiguity, respect, and hope. The characters’ problems are real and might never be fully resolved, but that fact can’t suppress even the simplest type of life’s joy . . . the kind that one finds on a boring Sunday afternoon. Despite its chameleon-like refusal to lend itself to a sound byte review, the film does achieve consistency in tone. Eimbcke tackles a range of human obstacles and portrays our response to them with delicate warmth. In avoiding the hokey message of, “Everything is gonna be all right,” he settles on the much more resonant declaration, “Everything can be all right, at least for a while.” Good enough for me.
By: Kevin Worrall
Published on: 2006-04-13