Empty Nest Daniel Burman

Empty Nest Daniel Burman
With its jazzy soundtrack, insular, rich writer protagonist, unintentionally amusing male anxieties and cocktail party dynamics audience identification may be limited to the over-50, wine-tasting, AGO-opening, faux-artiste crowd. But those folks will surely do a cartwheel over this examination of male identity and relevance, post-heteronormative obligation. It's technically proficient, featuring nuanced performances and a keen structural acumen, but is so solipsistic in scope and narrative that it's difficult to care.

What we have is a wealthy, successful writer (Oscar Martinez) struggling to find personal meaning and nuptial passion now that his daughter has been married off. His flaky socialite wife (Cecilia Roth) is far more concerned with keeping up appearances in their vapid arts community than finding sparks in their perfunctory marriage, which leaves Leonardo, our protagonist, fantasizing about human connections and lusting after his pretty young dentist.

Initially tackling the plight of addressing the unspoken death of a marriage, the film gradually reveals a deceptive and unstable narrative, rooted partially in fantasy, which becomes overt when a marching band follows Leonardo through a shopping mall, suggesting a life of performance and wilful delusion. It's cleverly done and quite intriguing but amounts to little more than commiseration through uncertainty.

We aren't given a broader social context or any external awareness of Leonardo's subsistence, which is of course, intentional but offers little to identify with. Since he's kind of a moronic douche bag this leaves the film floating in the same waters that the allegorical visual climax pivots on. We can appreciate the implication of anxiety confrontation as a re-evaluation of one's perceived reality but the specified solicitude on display is hard to engage in.

It all comes down to perspective, as it would be hard to deny the film's many successes and intellectual relevance. But whether or not one cares about a rich man's writer's block and realization of personal inconsistency is up to the viewer. (Kinosmith)