Published Sep 18, 2012Having already garnered international acclaim on his early collaborations with co-director Juan Pablo Rebella (25 Watts and Whisky), Uruguayan director Pablo Stoll Ward has the hurdle of expectations to overcome in branching out on his own. With 3, he focuses again on three central characters at a crossroads, each turning away from the other at a time when they need companionship most.
Here, 16-year-old Ana (Anaclara Ferreyra Palfy) is demonstrating inexplicable apathy, skipping out on school routinely despite getting good grades and slowly alienating her soccer coaches despite being on track for bigger things. Living with her divorced mother, Graciela (Sara Bessio), Ana's at home socialization consists of watching TV and eating junk food, when not running around the city flirting with older guys that look like trouble.
Graciela similarly looks outside of herself to find personal satisfaction, finding comfort in a man she routinely sees at the hospital while awaiting news on her sick aunt. In doing so, she ignores the many attempts her ex-husband, Rodolfo (Humberto De Vargas), makes to rekindle their relationship. Unhappy with his new wife, he spends most of his time at Graciela's rundown apartment cleaning and doing home renovations.
Ward's sketches of three characters suffering from a lack of focus and generalised dysphoria, mostly defined by low self-esteem and worth, is astute in itself, noting that in avoiding the internal it is impossible to grow and find happiness.
It's just unfortunate that his storytelling is lethargic and inconsistent, and the aesthetic and score of the film give the impression of a mid-'80s afterschool special. Worse is that his resolution for dissatisfaction, as represented by one of the most perplexing and tonally jarring choreographed dance sequences ever, is that of an antiquated Judeo-Christian ethos.
The message is that anyone defying the nuclear family culture is doomed to misery and abject behaviour, which is patronizing and vile. (Control Z)