A Useful Life

"Excellent"

A Useful Life Review


Shot in grainy back and white like an Italian neo-realist classic, this warm and witty ode to cinema may only appeal to true film fans. But it's packed with astute observations and enjoyably scruffy characters whose passion for movies is a natural to them as breathing.

Jorge (the actors use their own names) and Manuel are programming the arthouse Cinemateca in Montevideo from an extensive archive of old prints. But running this cinema is difficult in the digital age, with shrinking audiences and failing equipment. And when the financial backers pull the plug, Jorge hasn't a clue what to do next. Having worked at Cinemateca for 25 years, he has no other skills. How can he now ask university professor Paola out on a date? Maybe his love of old movies will provide some inspiration.

Realistically tatty settings provide a terrific backdrop for this film's bone-dry humour, which knowingly observes the way audiences for serious cinema are inexorably shrinking. And then there's the bigger picture, looking at how economic forces change familiar ways of doing things. In today's financial climate, it's not only art cinemas that are closing, but also libraries, newspapers, family-run shops, traditional cafes. In other words, this is a knowing look at how society's history and experience are quietly being lost.

So it's sad to watch Jorge and Manual desperately try to draw in people who are increasingly disinterested in the classics. Indeed, this film's subtle and sly approach will alienate blockbuster lovers who prefer simplistic plotting and whizzy visuals. Director Veiroj shoots in a static fly-on-the-wall style, refusing to manipulate scenes and letting the characters emerge from actors who don't seem to be acting at all.

But every scene has a playful touch that's even more fun for audiences who know their film history. After the heartbreaking images of the cinema being closed, Jorge emerges into a contemporary landscape of computers and mobile phones, things he's clearly never touched. But he also quietly realises that his love of movies might provide a way forward. And the film's final scenes are a joyous proclamation of just why film history is more important now than it's ever been before.



A Useful Life

Facts and Figures

Run time: 70 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th January 2011

Distributed by: FiGa Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Federico Veiroj

Producer: Ines Bortagaray, Gonzalo Delgado, Arauco Hernandez Holz, Federico Veiroj

Starring: Jorge Jellinek as Jorge, Manuel Martinez Carril as Martinez, Paola Venditto as Paola

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.