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Summer of Goliath

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A prolific wunderkind, Nicols Pereda can already lay claim to a handful of features---and an Anthology Film Archives retro, starting this week---before reaching his thirties. Those who keep tabs on world cinema's up-and-comers have undoubtedly heard his name, followed by the approving assent of murmuring gatekeepers; anyone curious about this young Mexican director should check out his latest, a semifictional portrait of a rural town's inhabitants. Though even if you haven't experienced Pereda's work firsthand, you actually have seen it before: in every endless follow-from-behind tracking shot that Hungary's Bla Tarr and Belgium's Dardenne brothers have turned into a default art-house mode; in the ambiguous avant-anthropology of Portugal's Pedro Costa and Argentina's Lisandro Alonso; in the queasy spirituality practiced by fellow countryman Carlos Reygadas and the self-reflexive games of Pereda's peer Miguel Gomes, among others.

The young filmmaker is less a fest-circuit Zelig than a walking U.N. of slow-and-low stylings, and folks wanting to sample every far-flung country's "cultural vegetable" offerings simultaneously will be thrilled for the one-stop shopping opportunity. But though Summer of Goliath has its share of grace notes and gorgeous shots, the anxiety of influence hangs heavy over every real-time interaction, every direct testimony, every re-creation (and re-re-creation) of allegedly true incidents. Pereda has proven adept at paying tributes and trying on parental wardrobes; one can only imagine what a heavy hitter he'll be once he finds his own voice and something to say with it.

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Written by David Fear
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