"Gigante": An Elegy of Solitude By Borislav Andjelic

in 59th Berlinale

by Borislav Andjelic

Despite the title, there is nothing gigantic in Gigante, the first feature by Argentinean Adrián Biniez, except for a large Montevideo supermarket in which it is set. This humorous, minimalist account of a solitary 35-year-old supermarket security guard, Jara (played by Horacio Camandule, who looks like a goodwill bear), obsessed with the cleaning woman Julia (Leonor Svarcas), he has never has spoken to, is done with great care.

Jara's everyday life, at work and at home, is a dull and routine existence filled only with watching monitors all night, sleeping on a couch at home while watching television, eating potato chips and solving crosswords or spending some time with his relatives. It all changes once he develops an interest in one of the cleaning women while working night shifts in the supermarket. His interest in her after constantly monitoring her behavior at work, gradually turns into an obsession, without any personal contact, when he starts to shadow her after work through the streets of Montevideo.

Adrian Bines, who had a small part in one of Uruguay's best ever received films, Whisky, has turned this slow paced and subtle story, which counts on audiences to fill in the gaps, into a warm-hearted elegy of solitude. Biniez shows a great sense of a visual style and color contrasts with the help of the camera of Arauco Hernández-Holz, and with careful framing, has created another striking image of a lonely man in a gallery of such personalities presented lately by new Latin American films.

Maybe it is pity that Biniez did not give more chance to his main character to develop the effective humorously 'giant' performance by Camandule. The character seems very apolitical, and not very talkative, until Biniez gives him a speech at the very end. The film is also effective in creating the social atmosphere in the director's country in a shabby Montevideo, haunted by the economic crisis with his protagonist and his 'muse' under constant threat of redundancy and job cuts. However there is nothing disturbing neither in the story, nor in its settings, which is so often present in new Latin American movies. But it is a touching story about loneliness that will probably make Gigante a darling of the festival circuit this year.

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