England, 2008, 92 minutes
Thu, May 7 / 7:00 / Castro / UNMA07C (film) / CLOSE (film+party) / CLOSEV (VIP film+party)
CLOSING NIGHT The youthful, sensuous and beautifully assured second feature from Argentine filmmaker Alexis Dos Santos (Glue, 2006) is a lyrical tale of two solitary expats, wayward young souls crossing paths in the cosmopolitan art-rock milieu of a sprawling East London squat. Twenty-year-old Axl (played with striking, reckless innocence by a superb Fernando Tielve) has come from Spain to find his long-lost English father. Raised traveling, Axl’s rootlessness has become a restless way of life. He drinks himself into forgetting at night, awaking like a promiscuous foundling among another set of nonchalant hosts and lovers. Meanwhile, posing as a student in need of housing, he hires his realtor father but hovers on the edge of revealing himself. Vera (an achingly vulnerable, gently arch Déborah François) is a wounded French-speaking beauty who oozes continental ennui at her bookstore job—where she’s not above discouraging a customer from buying a book she finds ridiculous. Responding to a stranger’s flirtation by wrapping caution and control in adventure and mystery in pursuit of a casual affair, she finds herself falling (like him) desperately in love. Visceral yet dreamlike, Unmade Beds lolls moodily and infectiously in a fluid visual style, heightened by a stirring soundtrack featuring cameos by contemporary U.K. bands. When Axl and Vera finally meet, the encounter is both decidedly low-key and deeply resonant, a drunken tête-à-tête between strangers wearing costume animal heads. It is Dos Santos’ sly, pitch-perfect nod to both our most basic natures as well as the masks we hide them behind.
In English, Spanish and French with English subtitles. West Coast Premiere.