Also, be sure to take a look at our video interview with Piñeiro here.
SAM: Matías Piñeiro’s Viola shapes and refines the ideas explored with Rosalinda in a major way. Opening on the eponymous character riding her bike through the city, Piñeiro then cuts to a troupe of actresses performing a scene from Twelfth Night (from their amalgamated production of several Shakespeare plays) while Fernando Lockett’s camera moves swiftly between audience and stage in sumptuous close-ups that capture a mutual fixation between performer and spectator. In a backstage dressing room, Cecilia (played wonderfully by Agustina Muñoz) discusses a man in the audience who has been watching her during several performances, setting the scene for a series of vibrant intersections. Meanwhile, Viola (María Villar) is introduced as a bicycle carrier delivering bootleg films for her boyfriend’s business. She rides across town, stops to chat with clients, and eventually finds her way to Cecilia by way of Agustín––a man on her route and the boyfriend of one of the other actresses in the play. Character roles fluctuate within the story (which, as in his other works, is somehow perfectly defined and strangely amorphous), sometimes within the same scene, and the film gradually accrues a small world centered around these converging interactions; scenes double-back to add new narrative insight and elliptical editing is used to distort perceptions of time and space. Despite its modest length, Piñeiro’s film is imbued with more depth than many of the feature length films released last year. The future certainly seems auspicious for this young and astute Argentine filmmaker.
SPENCER: The connection between Rosalinda and Viola is quite pronounced, Sam, almost as if the latter is a “remake”/expansion of the former, with Piñeiro developing a broader context and twisting his concepts into new and more complex forms. A major example of this is both movies’ extended rehearsal scenes, which, in Viola, takes the shape of a one-on-one seduction that Cecilia initiates after being prompted to test her theory about attraction. As both performers recite their dialogue, Cecilia constantly returns to already-said lines, starting the interaction again from an earlier point in the text—but with each reset, she elides her previous starting point, eventually reducing the conversation to only her own flirtatious statements. It’s a brilliant showcase of performance (both real-world and diegetic) and Piñeiro’s direction, and not just a sequence concerning difference and repetition; it’s a staggered spiral of speech that winds down to undeniable desire—both ingeniously structured and beautifully realized. Another key element, as you mentioned, is Lockett’s cinematography. With a patient but actively observational perspective, the visual aesthetic is attuned to the rhythm of the actors, tracking their movements and—such as in the dressing room scene—acutely navigating the blocking of bodies through shifting layers of focus (handheld camerawork combined with shallow-focus has become somewhat of a trope in contemporary low-budget cinema, but Lockett employs these techniques here in ways that are perfectly married to Piñeiro’s ideas). Indeed, whatever Piñeiro plans to do next is highly anticipated, as the possibilities and directions for his art are seemingly boundless after experiencing this bold and multivalent work of invigorating cinema.