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A Useful Life Review

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As an old movie theatre is forced to shut down, one of its long-serving staff members struggles to release himself from the old routine and fit back into the real world.

★★★★

A paean to cinephilia that also warns there is more to life than flickering shadows, Federico Veiroj’s second feature is an absolute gem. Shot in colour, but printed in Academy ratio monochrome, this neo-realist throwback stars critic Jorge Jellinek and former Cinemateca Uruguaya chief Manuel Martinez as a committed duo running a Montevideo arthouse, whose dwindling membership and lack of funding eventually forces its closure. The attention paid to the daily routine is relishable. But, once he becomes enamoured of academic regular Paola Venditto, Jellinek is compelled to connect with a wider world he knows better from the screen than experience, and having a haircut becomes as challenging as passing himself off as a visiting lecturer giving a paper on lying. Short, sweet and close to perfection.

A beautiful representation of innocence and naivety.