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Extrano Review

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Axel is a middle aged surgeon who no longer practises, adrift in life. The only person he has consistent contact with is his sister (Albéniz), until he meets Erika (Bertuccelli), a stranger in town.

★★★★★

An assured exercise in arresting minimalism, this is the latest film to emerge from Argentina’s economic crisis. Dextrously leaving more questions than answers, director Santiago Loza meticulously chronicles the unusual relationships between surgeon Julio Chávez and his sister Raquel Albéniz and pregnant stranger Valeria Bertuccelli.

We never learn why he stopped practising or how Bertuccelli conceived around the time of her best friend’s suicide. But Loza keeps inviting us to speculate during the Ozu-like pillow shots and lengthy passages of travel, which reinforce the ambiguous isolation of the characters. The performances are admirably muted, but it’s Loza’s controlled pacing and mastery of setting that impress the most.

With its haunting, uncredited piano score and mutedly ambiguous performances, this intriguing study of alienation and desperate optimism moves and disconcerts in equal measures.