A common problem with independent films is the amount of time that is spent collecting performances from the actors. Because of low budgets, there are moments when a scene that should be re-shot, isn’t. This leads to looks of surprise when a look of resignation would be better.
A common problem with independent films is the amount of time that is spent collecting performances from the actors. Because of low budgets, there are moments when a scene that should be re-shot, isn’t. This leads to looks of surprise when a look of resignation would be better. And scenes that seem off-kilter and disconnected from the rest. These problems are especially compounded by the use of non-professional actors, such as in The Girl in the Stone.
Made in rural Mexico in response to “the mounting problem of violence against young women,” the film follows along as its teenage protagonist makes a series of oddly timed mistakes. Gabino is in love, but see, he’s also stupid. His girlfriend dumps him and he doesn’t get it, he just blindly keeps trying, eventually becoming tragically obsessed. The story is something we’ve heard before: Maty doesn’t want a physical relationship, Gabino does, and it doesn’t work out. What are weird are Gabino’s decisions after getting dumped. It’s a mixture of groveling apology and vicious molestation, egged on by his friends. First he tries the apology route and, of course, nothing happens. Then his friends convince him to “bring her down a peg” by agreeing to grab her while he looks out for the teacher. Um, what? I don’t care where you are from, this line of thought doesn’t make sense–at all. Gabino then goes back to groveling mode and Maty (understandably) rebuffs him. This leads to yet more insane behavior.
This story would be hard to make understandable even if real actors were used, but with the current cast it just seems silly. Yes, young kids who are in love do stupid things sometimes. Maybe that’s the point of this movie. Maybe the point is that rural Mexico is a hellhole of stupid people. I don’t think that’s true, but that’s almost the point the director makes, even if by accident.
The Girl in the Stone also highlights the importance of a score and soundtrack to a film. It suffers because there are no sounds other than the actors speaking and other extraneous background noise. In a film that already suffers from detachment based on performances, the lack of music creates an extreme distance from the audience. It’s a movie, so we’re not part of it anyway, but the silence is jarring.
Overall, The Girl in the Stone seems like a very underdeveloped film. Tighter editing, better performances and a musical score of any type would push this film into more watchable territory. As it stands, The Girl in the Stone isn’t enough of anything to be a worthwhile match.
The last days of the Portland International Film Festival:
Thursday, Feb. 22My Grandmother’s House (Spain) 5 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Hula Girls (Japan) 5:30 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Madeinusa (Peru) 6 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
The Method (Spain) 6 p.m., Whitsell Hall
Sighs from the Heart (Spain) 6:30 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Fay Grim (United States) 6:30 p.m., Cinema 21
Play (Chile)7:15 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Summer Palace (China) 8:30 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Dreaming by the Numbers (Netherlands) 8:45 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
The Secret Life of Words (Spain) 8:45 p.m., Whitsell Hall
The Magician (Mexico) 9 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Lights in the Dusk (Finland) 9:15 p.m., Cinema 21
Blessed By Fire (Argentina) 9:30 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Friday, Feb. 23The Violin (Mexico) 4:45 p.m., Whitsell Hall Red Road (Great Britain) 5 p.m., Cinema 21
The Girl in the Stone (Mexico) 5 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Chronicle of An Escape (Argentina) 7:15 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
More Than Anything in the World (Mexico) 7:15 p.m., Whitsell Hall
Starter For Ten (Great Britain) 7:30 p.m., Cinema 21
Lights in the Dusk (Finland) 9:30 p.m., Cinema 21
Rough Winds (Spain) 9:30 p.m., Whitsell Hall
Sighs from the Heart (Spain) 9:30 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Saturday, Feb. 24Fay Grim (United States) 12 p.m., Cinema 21
The Citrillo’s Turn (Mexico) 12:15 p.m., Whitsell Hall
Play (Chile) 12:30 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Chronicle of An Escape (Argentina) 2:45 p.m., Whitsell Hall
Trade (United States) 2:45 p.m., Cinema 21
Barrio Cuba (Cuba) 3 p.m., Broadway Metroplex More Than Anything in the World (Mexico) 5:15 p.m., Whitsell Hall
The Violin (Mexico) 5:30 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Rescue Dawn (United States) 5:30 p.m., Cinema 21
Summer Palace (China) 7:45 p.m., Broadway Metroplex
Red Road (Great Britain) 8 p.m., Whitsell Hall
Private Fears in Public Places (France) 8:15 p.m., Cinema 21
Sunday, Feb. 25Beauty In Trouble (Czech Republic) 11 a.m., Whitsell Hall
Play (Chile) 11 a.m., Cinema 21
The Secret Life of Words (Spain) 1:15 p.m., Cinema 21
Border Cafe (Iran) 1:30 p.m., Whitsell Hall
Madeinusa (Peru) 3:45 p.m., Cinema 21
Mystic Ball (Canada) 4 p.m., Whitsell Hall