‘That was a beautiful film’ said my companion at Cornerhouse yesterday. And she was right. We didn’t know what to expect from the Chilean film La Vida de los Peces, The Life of Fish, screening as part of the ¡Viva! festival.
Beautiful – and sad – the film happens in real time at a party, so in just a little over an hour. Andrés has been away for ten years and has only this short time at his friend’s birthday party to catch up with all his old friends before heading for the plane back to Berlin where he lives.
He is still a bachelor while his friends have married and had children. The film starts with all the men in the bathroom, talking about sex and friendship. Andrés then walks slowly round the house (formerly?) belonging to his friend’s parents and chatting to an old flame and to his friend’s maid in the kitchen.
There is a hilarious scene with two young boys playing a video game, and another with his friend’s young sister and her girlfriends. Slowly the viewer pieces together what might have happened ten years ago. Andrés seems to have been involved in an accident which killed the brother of his host, and he sits in his dead friend’s room, thinking about the past.
But more than anything this is a love story, with Andrés first avoiding, and then seeking out, Beatriz. They used to be a couple, and now she is married and has children. It’s hard to work out quite what happened all those years ago. It’s even quite hard to work out what happens in this film.
It’s very low-key, quite beautiful and very sad. Probably.
And Chilean Spanish is really hard to understand.