Duck Season (2004)


Fernando Eimbcke

Fernando Eimbcke
Paula Markovitch

Director of Photography:
Alexis Zabe

Running time: 85 minutes

Original Title: Temporada de patos

When we, the viewers, spend an hour and a half in the company of a very small group of characters (four, to be precise) in one location, then they better be likeable. Fortunately, Duck Season does not disappoint.

One Sunday, two young teenage boys, Juan Pablo (“Moko”) and Mario (“Flama”), both 13 or 14 years old, spend the day at Flama’s mother’s flat, while she is out doing her chores. They drink Coke, eat chips and play video games. Then, 16-year-old Rita from next-door arrives to use their oven. They don’t pay much attention to her. Even when the power goes out, they prefer to sit in silence in front of the TV, rather than strike up a conversation. They order pizza, which leads to an oddly thrilling sequence in which the pizza delivery guy tries to outrun the clock. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t (although the soundtrack is clear on this point), and this uncertainty leads to a showdown between him and the boys.

By this stage, we’re only 30 minutes into the film, but you’ll have noticed that quite a lot actually happens, in spite of the many, many moments of silence, at least initially, in which the characters are visibly bored and just waiting for time to pass, for things to become less awkward.

Director Fernando Eimbcke demonstrates real skill in finding many different positions to place his camera: inside cupboards, inside the refrigerator, inside the oven – at one point, the camera even takes the place of an important painting in the living room. The film, shot entirely in black and white, on what must have been a shoestring budget, shows what can be accomplished when the characters are interesting and the story is well-developed.

The only deviation from the apartment setting (apart from the quirky sequence, mentioned above, in which Ulises, the pizza delivery man, races to deliver the pizza on time) is a flashback to a dog pound, which feels completely out of place. Also, the film tends to cheat from time to time by using the cuts, occurring between the scenes that mostly take place in the living room and the kitchen, as bridges across time, and these ellipses actually obscure important events that occur offscreen.

The self-confident Rita provides plenty of material to work with, but it is the young Moko, played by actor Diego Cataño, who impresses the most with his splendid performance, hinting at awkwardness and secrecy in his outer appearance of mere shyness, and yet these traces are never overstated or overplayed.

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