Uruguayan directing duo Pablo Stoll and Juan Pablo Rebella have returned with another prize winning film, following the international success of their first venture, 25 Watts. The surprise is that Whisky won an award for its script, despite there being very little dialogue throughout.
But as any professional scriptwriter will tell you it is not what is said that counts, but rather what is shown or implied. With Whisky you have to constantly work things out for yourself, reading between the sparse lines, and keeping an eye on every symbolic detail that will give away the history, shape and intricacies of the three central characters and their relationships to one another.
The story itself is very simple, Jacobo Köller (Andrés Pazos) owns a non-too successful sock factory in Montevideo, Uruguay; he lived with and looked after his sick mother until she died, and is now a rather morose character, dedicated to routine. But this routine is momentarily broken when his brother Herman (Jorge Bollani), who lives with his wife in Brazil and missed their mother’s funeral, comes to visit for the erection of a headstone, so Jacobo – for reasons kept to himself – asks his forewoman Marta (Mirella Pascual) to pretend to be his wife for the duration of Herman’s stay.
Almost immediately we are provided with an interesting insight when the brothers meet at the airport and exchange gifts of socks from their respective factories. But it is on a weekend break together in the sea-side town of Piriapolis where the trio reveal their true colours.
Marta slowly sheds her mundane appearance and existence, opening up to Herman as the two gently flirt with one another, while Jacobo looks on with a mixture of disdain and sadness, spending most of his time quietly brooding in the Shining like hotel.
Interestingly it is money that also plays a major role as a substitute for emotions and feelings, as Herman offers a large sum of money to his brother for failing to be there to help their sick mother, and Jacobo then passes the money on to Marta as compensation for making little effort in their ‘put on’ marriage.
The bone-dry comedy is as reticent as the trio portrayed. Everything’s beautifully understated and the dark, melancholic scenery sets the tone perfectly. I just feel at times the pace needed to be raised a little, which wasn’t helped by the camera lingering a little too long on irrelevant scenes, and a little more depth to the characters would have rounded off some good performances.
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