Lake Tahoe

Next up for me at the London Film Festival was Fernando Eimbcke’s wonderfully understated Mexican movie, Lake Tahoe. Filmed on location in the town of Progreso, Yucatán, the story follows the main character, Juan, through the day as he tries to get his car repaired following a crash. Along the way he meets a few of the other locals and his interactions with them form what passes for plot development for the rest of the movie.

lake_tahoe_1.jpg

But plot takes a back seat here to the minimalist characterisation and beautifully subtle cinematography — the art direction owes a lot to the style of Jarmusch and Wenders’ Paris, Texas, with long deliberate pauses in the editing and a pace that is some way beyond leisurely. This is a really “slow” film, it just doesn’t feel the need to get anywhere in a hurry. Static camera and extended sound-only black screens, together with an absence of incidental music give the scenes enormous aural detail — you can literally hear a pin drop. At the post-premiere Q&A session Eimbcke suggested that the black screens were more of an economic decision than an art directional one, but they suit the treatment very well.

lake_tahoe_2.jpg

This is the beauty of the movie, it’s just dripping with understated atmosphere — the handful of characters sit delicately within the arid surroundings, never feeling the need to move or talk at any pace. Favourites include the Bruce Lee obsessed mechanic and the punk shop assistant who discovers Juan’s talent for babysitting. This film won’t be to everyone’s tastes — its minimal take on plot and pace will leave many cold, but if you can stick with it you’ll discover a film with an awful lot to say about dealing with loss.