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Review: Felipe


- Federico Schmukler presents a film in which he narrates the emotional chaos of puberty after the 2001 crisis in Argentina

Review: Felipe
Felipe Szumik in Felipe

"You can’t think about the present and contemporary history of Argentina without mentioning what happened in the 2001 crisis, as that December represented the end of an era and also the birth of new winds". This quote by Julián Norberto Zícari, a researcher specialising in this period of Argentina's recent history, opens Felipe. A film by the Argentinean director and screenwriter Federico Schmukler with its world premiere at the 20th Seville Film Festival..

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Set in the 2001 Argentine crisis, the film tells the story of the teenager Felipe (played by Felipe Szumik), a 13-year-old boy full of doubts, insecurities, fears, hormones and feelings. In the midst of all this chaos at different levels, Felipe falls in love with Lucía, the girl next door to his father's house (his parents are separated, a situation that the boy doesn't quite understand either), with whom he finally decides to run away to a remote place by a cliff, far from the city. But in this refuge, his innocence will fade away as he faces the fears of adulthood.

Based on this parallel between the social and political crisis that the country is going through and the emotional crisis of the protagonist at puberty, the film discusses this first phase of adolescence. The changes that occur in the transition from childhood to adulthood, when one is confronted with the unknown and start to feel like a stranger to yourself and to others. It is interesting how the director narrates this stage from the protagonist's point of view, reflecting his contradictory feelings, his erratic searches, his confrontational relationships with the adult world, his bewilderment and perplexity at what he is experiencing, his sense of loneliness, his desire for freedom, his fear and his longing to understand how things really are outside the bubble of childhood, the loss of innocence, also that unique energy of early youth, his inclination for the unexpected, the power of first love, the desire to love and be loved. All this is told with naturalness and simplicity, through the everyday life of the characters, without great artifice, focusing on the protagonist's gaze, on the acts and experiences of a character. In these small sequences where the emotional world of the protagonist is reflected, the film enjoys its best moments, beautiful and moving.

The biggest issue is when resources that are not always needed are overused. In some sequences, the music is perfect, providing emotional strength at the right moment, but in others it is excessive, falling into easy sentimentality. Another perhaps minor weakness (because it is, after all, the story the director wants to tell) is that there is nothing extraordinary in the film, it is the same teenage story told a thousand times in the same way with slight variations.

Despite its weaknesses, Felipe comes close to what it sets out to be, a simple and honest film, with no double standards or artifice. It is intimate and at the same time political, with beautiful and moving moments, about the stage when we start to find out (or try to find out) what life is all about.

Felipe is a co-production between companies from Argentina, Spain, Guatemala and Mexico by Brujas Producciones, Potenza Producciones, La casa de producción and Agavia.

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(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)

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