Exploring Foreign Films With Maddie Crichton: “Medianeras”

Maddie Crichton ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Official Poster for Medianeras (Sidewalls).
Official Poster for Medianeras (Sidewalls).

I like to consider myself a film buff.  The movie theater is like a second home for me. However, I realized that there has been a whole genre of film that I have not given a lot of my attention to: foreign films.

I’ve always thought it would be cool to be the person who has a long list of favorite foreign movies, but in reality I’m the person who nods along and acts like they know what every one is talking about whenever a foreign film is mentioned. So, in order to fix this and immerse myself into this new area of cinema, I decided to watch a different foreign film every week.

I started off with the 2011 Argentinean film Medianeras (Sidewalls), directed by Gustavo Taretto.  Medianeras is an untraditional romantic comedy that follows Mariana (Pilar López de Ayala) and Martín (Javier Drolas), who live in adjacent apartment buildings in Buenos Aires. Together they would make an excellent pair, however, they have never met. The film follows their lives individually, and we see that the two think the same way, have similar interests and experiences, and often are doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. They frequently cross one another’s paths without a second look.

This was definitely a good film for anyone who wants to be introduced to the foreign film genre. It was fun to watch, easy to follow, and generally speaking, a really great movie. López de Ayala and Drolas both delivered incredible performances and made their characters very relatable. They also did a great job playing off of one another despite the fact that their characters barely come into contact.

One of the most brilliant aspects of the movie was how little it used dialogue. There are numerous scenes where the actors powerfully develop their characters sitting alone in their apartments, doing everyday tasks and hardly saying a word. This prevents any confusion with the language or subtitles that someone like me, who is not really used to foreign films, might struggle with. When the protagonists did speak, it was not often face to face other characters, but rather a constant stream of their thoughts. Their voices were also paired with beautiful shots of the characters, their apartments, and the city of Buenos Aires, which was a character in itself.

What really separated this movie from typical American cinema was the fact that it didn’t follow any formula. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for classic guy-meets-girl-guy-falls-for-girl romantic comedy, but it was very refreshing to see a film that was honest and accurately portrayed real people living real lives. Medianeras showed true loneliness, heartbreak, hope, frustration, desperation and confusion.

Also, it did not have the stereotypical happy ending of a man and a woman kissing in the rain, rather it just showed the promise of a happy ending. There is not dramatic closing of the two kissing in the rain, just an implied connection and potential for a romantic relationship.

Overall, I would consider my introduction to foreign films to be pretty good. Medianeras was an excellent movie, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to watch foreign films, or just anyone who wants to watch a good movie. It is interesting to see a different cultures take on a romantic comedy, a genre that’s known for being very repetitive. It’s also great to use films as a means of seeing new places from all around the world, and I look forward to seeing where next week’s movie will take me.

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