“Like [Matías] Piñeiro’s previous two films Rosalinda and Viola, which reworked As You Like It and Twelfth Night, respectively, The Princess of France borrows from Shakespeare,” writes Nicolas Rapold in the New York Times. “The story focuses on a young man (Julián Larquier Tellarini) who is assembling a radio play based on Love’s Labour’s Lost while challenges simultaneously pile up in his own love life. The film is set in Mr. Piñeiro’s familiar milieu of young, restless, Bohemian, middle-class Argentine men and women in and around a Buenos Aires preoccupied with artistic and romantic pursuits…. In describing Mr. Piñeiro’s work, as part of a feature last fall on 20 young directors to watch, the New York Times film critic A.O. Scott wrote, ‘the strivings of the young are filtered through a lively literary sensibility and a precise and elegant visual style.’ This style, at once contemporary and classical in its light-footed approach, is reflected in his latest work too.”
“Piñero’s light touch once again provides a keen access point to a secretively advanced narrative technique,” writes Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn. Victor “drifts through a series of romantic entanglements, finding that longtime girlfriend Paula has vanished. So he winds up developing an attraction to sweet-natured Ana, with whom he has previously flirted via email, while spreading gossip among the rest of his Love’s Labour’s Lost cast suggesting that he’s got yet another crush in town. In essence, he’s an unreliable narrator in a movie that follows suit.”
For Screen‘s Dan Fainaru, Piñero’s “direction displays a knack for intricately planned shots (great work by cinematographer Fernando Lockett), even if they are not always truly necessary…. Piñero seems to feel no need to tell a real story. He shuns dramatic developments, preferring to establish an ambiance, with the Bard’s lines spilling every once in a while into everyday conversations or literally commenting on them.”
“Will this be your last Shakespeare film?” Paul Dallas asked in Interview last year. Piñero: “No, there’s another one I want to make. It’s a bigger film, a period piece that I want to shoot in Le Tigre, where we shot Rosalinda. It’s called Isabella, after the character from Measure for Measure. It’s a darker film. This film will not be that funny. [laughs] There are beheadings, and that type of thing.”
More on The Princess of France (La princesa de Francia) in Spanish from Diego Lerer. And for more on Piñeiro’s work in English, see Brad Deane (TIFF Cinematheque) and Quintín (Cinema Scope).
Viewing (3’00”). Locarno has a subtitled clip. More viewing (35’43”). The Q&A (which gets going about a minute-and-a-half in).
As Brandon Latham reported for Indiewire the other day, Cinema Guild has picked up US rights.
Update, 8/11: “Matías Piñeiro’s films are light as a feather, and indeed The Princess of France exemplifies this quality,” writes Adam Cook in the Notebook. “Soft, warm, gentle—it is a film that flutters about, intricately constructed but formally defined by the people within its frames. The camera is glued to the characters, but not to their faces in simple close ups, but rather in a pliable orbit around them, attuned to their gestures, their spirit. As much as Piñeiro’s focus is on the text, and expanding possibilities of working with Shakespeare, his attention seems equally transfixed by his love for people, their words, movements, smiles, feelings, hopes.”
Updates, 8/13: For James Lattimer, writing in a dispatch to the House Next Door, “if you’re willing to play along with Piñeiro’s games, getting lost in his cheerful labyrinths of shifting characters, romantic entanglements, and cultural references is sheer joy…. Dialogue declaimed at thrilling speed, perpetual romantic indecision and graceful, gliding camerawork once again ensue, though what’s most impressive about the film is how perfectly it reconciles familiarity and innovation.”
Boyd van Hoeij, fluent in a good handful of languages, in the Hollywood Reporter: “The most language-obsessed of all of Shakespeare’s plays is perhaps also the most difficult to translate, let alone then translating it back into the original language (for the subtitles) while infusing the words with a sense of what the contemporary Rio de la Plata Spanish version adds to the material—all the while without losing what makes Shakespeare sound like Shakespeare. Invariably, something is lost in translation along the way.”
Update, 8/16: “This is the director’s most formally complex and confident work yet, feeling at once expansive and almost perversely intricate, with impressively choreographed mise-en-scene and sensual camerawork,” writes Paul Dallas in a dispatch to Filmmaker. “The mood set in the ten-minute opening shot—a nighttime soccer match viewed from a rooftop set to a Schumann symphony—has stayed with me for days.”
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