Considering the amount of rainfall over the past month, it was amazing that the single day I had off last week was mild and sunny. My partner and I headed for the rolling, grassy hills of the Tennessee Valley, armed only with zip lock bags of dried fruit and a desire to be immersed in the rich green hues of the valley after a spring rain. Stretching out under the puffy clouds that parted the blue sky, we worked up an appetite for Chinese food and, of course, cinema, so we headed into the wilds of San Rafael to hunt for some satisfaction. And satisfaction we got.
I had never seen a film at the San Rafael Film Center, so when we discovered the Mexican film Duck Season was playing, we found a joint nearby for a little Buddha's Delight and saddled up to the theater just as the credits began to roll.
Let's face it, I have a soft spot for those first pangs of adolescent longing. Quiet moments of upheaval, when you don't know whether to laugh or cry or behave around the person who occupies your thoughts. Times when you feel so connected to someone, but you simply can't express it. So it's no surprise that I fell head over heels for Duck Season. The film simply and beautifully captures these moments, all in a single Sunday afternoon, in a Mexico City middle-class high-rise.
It is a smart move, situating one's first feature in a single location, during a single day. But rather than a claustrophobic use of this one apartment, Fernando Eimbcke creates a simple story of a quartet of quirky characters, each seeming to operate at cross-purposes. The neighbor girl and her baking odyssey, the pizza delivery guy trying to save up enough money to move out of Mexico City, and the two Coca-Cola swilling, pizza-munching boys who taste their first moment of freedom away from the watchful eye of their parents.
Moko, (Diego CataÃ±o) the cute, curly topped pal wanders unsuspectingly into the kitchen, and gets pressed into service as a baker's assistant by the neighbor girl who is hell bent on baking a cake. But he gets more than he bargained for from the experience and learns to understand his own feelings. Meanwhile, in the living room, the battle of wills between the Pizza Delivery Guy and Flama (Daniel Miranda) is thwarted by a power outage. As the day unravels, the house gets trashed, the dishes pile up, the sun fades, and the cast of characters gets inexplicably and magically drawn into a painting depicting the duck-hunting season.
Shot in a luminous black and white, in long takes, Duck Season has the appearance of simplicity but, at its heart, captures the longing, in all its facets, of a Sunday afternoon. As the day comes to a close, Moko and Flama realize that they may never see each other again. And like all Sunday evenings, you are left with a sad and empty feeling as the dream of the weekend ends and the monotony of everyday life begins anew.