One of the more enjoyably offbeat features at last year's New York Film Festival that is only now seeing the light of day is Martin Rejtman's Two Shots Fired. This comic offering showcases Argentina as a land plagued by emotional neutrality. No smiles. No Howard Beale outbursts. No fidgety tots and no Lotharios aquiver.
The film begins as some might end. Sixteen-year-old Mariano (Rafael Federman), after a night of discoing and a morning of swimming laps and mowing the lawn, goes into his family's tool shed, comes upon a hidden revolver, and goes back to his bedroom where he shoots himself in his head and stomach--or tries to. Yes, he escapes any major damage with the exception of an internal bullet that interferes with his ability to blow into his recorder and play Renaissance and Baroque music. This suicidal gesture also sets off some alarms.
When asked later by a psychiatrist why he did what he did, Mariano replies, "It was an impulse . . . . It was very hot . . . . I'm not anxious or depressed."
Apparently, the shooting was an act that placed a suicide attempt on the same level as pruning the garden of weeds or changing one's motor oil.
Of course, his family reacts a bit to this unforeseen breach of family etiquette. Mom, by burying all the knives in the house in the backyard, and brother Ezequiel (Benjamin Coelho), by falling for a young server at a fast food restaurant.
Imagine a John Water's film but with "normal people on Valium" and you sort of have it, except one of the main villains here is a cell phone that can't be silenced. Damn technology!
Oh, I forgot. There's more: the family dog who escapes to a better-off family, and a weekend vacation where Mom and Mariano's music teacher hook up with an oddball, derelict hausfrau, her divorced unsavory husband, and his kleptomaniac woman-of-the-moment who winds up getting bit by fleas.
Two Shots Fired is a farcical delight that strives to satirize Modern Life, an epoch where everyone goes through the motions but fails to connect in any genuine manner. The film achieves its goals.
(Cinema Tropical's release of Two Shots Fired by Martín Rejtman along with a complete retrospective of the Argentinean director continues at Film Society of Lincoln Center this week.)