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CANNES 2024 Directors’ Fortnight

Review: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed


- CANNES 2024: Hernán Rosselli presents a hypnotic and technically inventive tale of memory, family secrets, and what lies between the lines in contemporary Buenos Aires

Review: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed
Maribel Felpeto in Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed

When memory tells you one thing but records say another, who is really right – or, rather, who would you prefer to believe? Argentinian filmmaker Hernán Rosselli gently interrogates the politics of remembrance and documentation with his hypnotic story Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, which has just enjoyed its world premiere on the Croisette, in the Directors’ Fortnight.

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The director weaves a heady, autofictional tale by combining archival footage – home videos from his childhood neighbour, Maribel Felpeto – with scripted narrative fiction, played out by Felpeto and her family within Rosselli's story. Maribel, a bookie in a family of bookies living in Buenos Aires, must navigate personal and professional disputes while also unravelling mysteries about the death of her father uncovered through archival remains online and on tape. Our protagonist also takes on the role of occasional narrator, turning the film into a sort of alternative personal history of her parents.

While slow, the film is sculpted through Rosselli’s talent for spatial construction through the combination of cinematographic (photography by Joaquin Neira and Hugo Felpeto) and audio elements as well as his multimodal methods of capturing and recounting life, experience and memory. The writer-director is also known as an editor for several films that confront the precarity of such things, including A Farewell to Memory and What Will Summer Bring. This background shines through in his newest feature, where he skilfully moves between and combines footage captured by cameras of all types: conventionally shot images, analogue archival sequences, and moments captured by surveillance cameras, airport X-ray scanners and even a fish-eye, 360-degree lens. A party, a conversation between bookmakers, the observation of a police encounter – the world-building tapestry is solidified with sound from a team made up of Nahuel Palenque, Martin Gabriel Scaglia, Lautaro Zamaro and Javier Fernandez Jensen.

Long, immersive scenes between family members and intimate moments where the camera simply observes everyday interactions create a fly-on-the-wall feeling that contributes to a strong sense of place where global and neighbourhood politics collide. In Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Rosselli forges a close relationship between his characters and where they dwell, ensuring that they belong in the spaces where they are found.

The film’s minimalistic score begins at the very outset, where Johann Sebastian Bach’s iconic “Prelude in C Major” is played on an electric keyboard. The prelude that everyone has heard but no one can put a name to acts like a memory that no one can place, and is then played on a loop throughout as a motif in different forms, its deceptively simple sequences repeatedly evoking a dreamlike state.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed is a production by 36 Caballos (Argentina), co-produced by Protón Cine (Argentina), Un Resentimiento de Provincia Cine (Argentina), Zebra Cine (Argentina), Oublaum Films (Portugal), Jaibo Films (Spain) and Arde Cine (Argentina). Its world sales are managed by MPM Premium.

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