by Bill Stamets


Posted in Uncategorized by Bill Stamets on January 23, 2010

Argentinian filmmaker Lisandro Alonso makes allusive dramas with little dialogue and eloquent landscapes. “Liverpool” continues the style of “La Libertad” (2001) and “Los Muertos” (2004), where the camera observes nearly mute men, played by non-actors, undertake interior missions.

Farrel (Juan Fernandez) works on a cargo ship about to dock at Ushuaia, a port city in Tierra del Fuego. He asks the captain for leave to see if he his aged mother still lives near a remote sawmill. “Liverpool” tracks his journey to the snowy hills. A bottle of liquor is his only traveling companion.

When he arrives, a few lines of oblique dialogue establish that Farrel left so long ago most locals no longer know him. That includes his senile, bedridden mother. Farrel meets a young relative born after his departure who seems mentally disabled. He gives her a piece of jewelry and heads back to his ship.

Alonso supplied just as little plot to “Los Muertos” (“The Dead”), in which a man let out of prison paddles down a jungle river. He’s recognized by a local who heard something about him killing his brothers long ago. Seeking his daughter, the ex-con encounters a grandson he never knew he had. With even less narrative, “La Libertad” (“Freedom”) studied the routine of another solitary man.

Both of those first-time actors appear in a later Alonso film: they go to a city theater and watch themselves in an Alonso film. Seeing themselves on screen may not clarify their lives. “Liverpool” offers audiences a similar opportunity to peer at a traveler as cypher. Farrel’s past and his thoughts are uninterpreted, like the sea and silent terrain he crosses.

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