In 1962 Paris, wealthy broker Jean-Louis (Luchini) and his wife Suzanne (Kiberlain) live in his family flat, oblivious to the Spanish maids who occupy tiny rooms on the top floor and gather in the park to gossip about their bosses. It's not until Jean-Louis and Suzanne hire new arrival Maria (Verbeke) to work for them that they discover this world of labourers. And Jean-Louis embraces it, finding new satisfaction in helping to make their lives better while flirting quietly with Maria. But Suzanne suspects something else entirely.
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Set almost entirely in a nicely-appointed conference room in a Madrid office building, The Method begins with a very telling split-screen montage: As we watch the characters go about their morning routines, traffic is piling up and the streets thickening with protestors. The IMF-World Bank conference is in town and the anti-globalization forces are marshalling for a Seattle-esque day of angry confrontation. But this is of little concern to the seven, who have taken advantage of the protests (many offices have shut down for the day) to go to a group interview for an executive job at Dexia Corporation. Of course, we are never privy to knowing what it is that Dexia does, but such specifics are entirely beside the point.
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My focus on the lips wasn't by chance, Parkhill actually opens and practically closes the film with zoomed shots of the lead's puckers. In Dot the I, the camera follows lips and eyes almost reverentially. It's as though Parkhill believes he can capture the soul of his actors in close-up shots of their faces. It's telling because despite the pretension of depth, the film is quite superficial, with an odd, almost off, affectation. Parkhill wants to tell us an engaging, deliriously snappy story but he loses us with half-baked dialogue and patchwork style.
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Just as the pre-cardiac arrest Rafa is vapid and unhappy, so is Campanella's film before the incident. Ricardo Darín, in the lead role, is a standout, sputtering dialogue like an angry boxer throwing jabs, but we've seen most of this before. He ignores the situations around him, works his fingers to the bone, and doesn't appreciate life. The prospects for an original, honest movie get worse when Rafa's aging father (Héctor Alterio) reveals his wish to renew his vows with Rafa's stunning mother (Norma Aleandro), regardless of her losing battle with Alzheimer's. Alterio's gushy proclamation is too sticky-sweet, and the film seems headed for soap opera territory.
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"Dot the I" begins with a beautiful, willfulbut vulnerable Spanish immigrant to London accepting the proposal of hersweet, adoring and doting English boyfriend -- then being knocked for aloop by a kiss from a stranger at her bachelorette party.
This kiss has lyrical cinematic brilliance as it lingers-- the outside world shut out for a spellbinding moment -- until a suddensound snaps the startled smoochers back to reality. It's a kiss that changesthe lives of Carmen (Natalia Verbeke) and Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal), himselfan immigrant from Brazil who represents a passion lacking from the girl'srelationship with Barnaby (James D'Arcy). But the relationship with herfiance makes her feel safe in the wake a violently abusive past that sneaksup on her psyche from time to time.
The emotional complications of this love triangle are engrossingand deeply heartfelt, and Carmen's character is vividly drawn, with Verbekeinfusing her with a style that makes army pants seem incredibly sexy andan irresistible spirit of newfound empowerment, albeit tinged with stormymelancholy of growing inner turmoil. Writer-director Matthew Parkhill creativelymixes film and low-end digital video (impoverished aspiring-filmmaker Kithas a habit of keeping a video diary) to provide a first-person immediacythat is at once sweetly romantic and a little creepy. And even though themagic between Verbeke ("The Other Side of the Bed") and Bernal("BadEducation") is slightly undermined by bothactors' awkwardness with English, their attraction is downright addicting.
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"Dot the I" begins with a beautiful, willfulbut vulnerable Spanish immigrant to London accepting the...