Published Nov 19, 2012Something consistent through the works of Nicolás Pereda is the visual and thematic trajectory of being lost, or being at odds with ones surroundings. Through most of Juntos, a very precise, deliberately paced and strangely ironic, drama, his trio of characters seem as lost as the titular dog, Junto, who has escaped from the apartment of boyfriend and girlfriend, Gabino (Gabino Rodriguez) and Luisa (Luisa Pardo), when the film opens.
Initially concerned with his missing dog, Gabino blames his friend Paco (Francisco Barreiro)—who is crashing in the couple's living room much to the annoyance of Luisa—for leaving the door open, only to forget about the dog once a trip to the roof reveals a problem with their water. This diversion, or mindless preoccupation, takes up most of the runtime, as Gabino resolves the issue of constant boiling water running from their taps by keeping glasses of water in the freezer for drinking. And to continue with the trajectory of misguided solutions to unresolved problems, the freezer eventually breaks, leaving the trio to speculate about cutting holes in their pipes and leaving jars under the sink to obtain drinking water.
With plenty of extended sequences with characters either off screen or avoiding eye contact, Pereda gives us a lingering impression of unease and misdirection. Luisa expresses dissatisfaction with their houseguest, which leaves Gabino at a loss, instead focusing on the many minor problems that arise, like a toothache, or what to eat for dinner.
None of the characters have much control over their life, which is particularly evident in the male characters who flounder about from place to place, unable to find any sort of logical solution to a problem, and not having the self-awareness to reach out to others for help. This topic of young men unable to understand or embrace traditional roles of masculinity or accept responsibility for others is similarly consistent in the works of Pereda—particularly in Summer of Goliath--with him noting the generational effects of a culture of boys raised almost entirely by women.
Both contemplative and slyly absurd, the ironically titled Juntos, which means "together" or "united" in Spanish, says something eerily profound using deceptively simple means about manhood, disorientation and the nature of feeling lost in the world.
Juntos screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of the Where are the Films of Nicolás Pereda? retrospective on Thursday, November 22nd at 6:45pm. (Nicolás Pereda)