by Mónica Delgado
In Hermia & Helena, Matías Piñeiro deals with his fascination for the Shakespearian characters of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a different way than his two previous films: La Princesa de Francia or Rosalinda. Here the tale is divided by chapters, chapters that search for answers in flashbacks or by insinuating that what we see of the future (or present) is possibly part of a dream.
Carmen, a translator and actress in Buenos Aires, returns from a student residence in New York to leave that space open for her friend Camila, a drama student that leaves the city without many expectations, leaving her boyfriend and friends reluctantly. This transaction of spaces and presences, allows us to establish some correspondences with the motivations of the feminine characters of Shakespeare’s comedy, and prepares a unique structure of meetings and mismatches posed from the gaze of a character who falls in love in the meantime.
The peculiarity of Hermia & Helena lies in the style that Piñeiro impregnates to a tale that knows how to extract codes from Shakespeare and allows a game of different times to inquire about the motivations of Camila (Agustina Muñoz) in her search of the love ideal. It isn’t casual that the film is dedicated to Setsuko Hara, that wonderful Japanese actress that was part of several Yasuhiro Ozu’s films, an actress who incarnates the kind of single woman trapped in forced situations leading to a form of marriage. Love isn’t an entity that surfaces during a process but, as the Shakespearean comedy narrates, might be fruit of some bewitching or magic that makes the loved one to surface as if it was a major surprise. Love is about submitting to the influence of magic.
There’s a clear style in this film: symbolic reiterations (travel postcards that are burned, for example) or juxtaposed images as transitions, which evokes the diffuse character of what’s being represented, as if two different times overlapped with each other and produce a new meaning, beyond a merely formal intention. Is because of this kind of aesthetic choices (like the use of the high-angle shot) that Hermia & Helena comes as Piñeiro’s most elaborated film, a journey between Spanish and English languages, between New York and Buenos Aires, between the present and the past, among woman that complement each other and allow for each other happiness in a sublime way.
Hermia & Helena, the latest film of Argentinian filmmaker Matías Piñero will premiere this may 26th in New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Metrograph, followed by new dates in different cities of the United States.