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Haven't Seen It? It's on Netflix: Sidewalls

Updated on January 23, 2013

Sidewalls aka Medianeras (2011)

Director: Gustavo Taretto

Starring: Javier Drolas, Pilar López de Ayala

Runtime: 95 min

Martín and Mariana live in Buenos Aires, a city of 3 million, where the chances of this pair ever meeting are slim, especially when they seldom leave the confines of their respective apartments. Martín is a web designer that suffers panic attacks at the prospect of venturing out into the city, and Mariana is looking so hard to find her life's missing pieces that she doesn't see what is right in front of her. Through a series of near encounters, and the realization that they share many of the same hopes and fears, we come to find out that they are the perfect match. But will true love find them in the end?

Gustavo Taretto's debut feature intentionally calls attention to the disconnectedness of modern day society. Cinematographer Leandro Martínez's beautiful images of Buenos Aires, a city of mismatched architecture and telephone wires that seemingly tie everything all together, contrast sharply with the dark, claustrophobic moodiness of Martín and Mariana's living spaces. The dialogue is sparse, but the voice over is heavy; this is a world in which people don't do much conversing, but rather live inside their own heads. Javier Drolas and Pilar López de Ayala add to the insular mood with good performances as two people deserted in the modern world.

Sidewalls is a film that revels in the space that usually occupies about 10 minutes in the traditional romantic comedy: the lead up to the would-be lovers' first meeting. It is an exploration of anxiety that accompanies the knowledge that there is someone out there for everyone, but not knowing where to look. In an age where one can do anything from the computer, from downloading music to ordering food (or, streaming movies), Taretto acknowledges that the temptation to lead a virtual life may be tempting, but urges viewers to more deeply examine the real world around us. Especially in Martín and Mariana's case, he seems to suggest that, though true love's course never does run smooth, it doesn't run anywhere if you're locked in a windowless shoebox.

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