Like his previous Duck Season, Fernando Eimbcke’s Lake Tahoe is a comedy about stasis. The setting is a sleepy pueblo in the Mexican state of Yacatan; the young protagonist, Juan (Diego Cataño), is first seen sitting in the family car, which has just been brought to a full stop by a roadside pole. The need to fix it provides the film’s slender clothesline, on which Eimbcke hangs placid eccentrics, fastidiously static frames, and a gentle but growing sense of unspoken sorrow. The shadow of Jim Jarmusch can still be detected in the director’s fondness for lavish time-wasting, blackout edits, and stone-faced gags, but at its best, Eimbcke’s feeling for dry, quotidian radiance also displays some of the moment-by-moment freshness of early Kiarostami (Where Is the Friend’s Home in particular). The film’s deadpan façade occasionally yields to cuteness (as when “Zen” in giant graffiti letters appears emblazoned in the corner of the screen), but Juan’s interactions with the locals—a teenage single mother and wannabe rocker (Daniela Valentine), an elderly shop-owner (Hector Herrera), an amiable, kung fu-obsessed mechanic (Juan Carlos Sara)—are played less for quirkiness than for a mutual sense of stranded rue. Yet where Duck Season benefited from its hemmed-in setting, Lake Tahoe roams about diffusely, with a late-in-the-game revelation that’s meant to elucidate Juan’s behavior but instead feels more like an overt attempt at pulling the film’s disparate incidents together into a whole. Eimbcke has an undeniable gift for deftly doleful wavelengths, where slight events accumulate meaning on the road into adulthood. By continuing to hit the same minor key of adolescent wistfulness, however, he suggests that he may have some artistic maturation of his own to still go through.
- Anthology Film Archives
- 85 min
- Fernando Eimbcke
- Fernando Eimbcke, Paula Markovitch
- Diego Cataño, Daniela Valentine, Hector Herrera, Juan Carlos Lara, Yemil Stefani, Olda Lopez, Mariana Elizondo
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