The Critics’ Week winner is entirely original

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Simon has a strong muscle twitch that causes him to shake his head uselessly. He dribbles sometimes. The way he looks at the world from under his eyebrows, especially when people are talking to him, suggests that he can’t quite follow what they’re saying. When he meets a group of young people from a local daycare center for the mentally disabled, he naturally joins them. He befriends Pehuen Pedre (playing a version of himself) at the top of a mountain, where the group has been hiking and run into trouble in high winds. When they all manage to get on the bus, Simon gets on with them. This is where he belongs.

Simon van de BergArgentinian director Federico Luis’ moving, enigmatic and entirely original feature debut, which won the top prize at Critics’ Week in Cannes, is a reference to Luis Bunuel’s 1965 classic Simon of the desert. Shot in Mexico, Bunuel’s film is an anticlerical mockery of a holy ascetic, Simeon Stylites, who reportedly sat atop a pillar in the desert for several years to demonstrate his devotion to God. Luis’ Simon is not committed to anything, but he also seems to have chosen a path of denial.

What’s wrong with Simon? His mother (Laura Nevole) alternates between telling him to stop and begging him to talk to her, to explain why he’s doing this, why he’s chosen to befriend these outsiders, why he’s so combative is. Her boyfriend Agustin (Agustin Toscano, also one of Luis’ two co-writers), who drives a moving van for a living and is kind enough to hire the erratic Simon, won’t interfere.

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At first, Simon’s mother seems as evil as the character of Satan, who seems to tempt Bunuel’s Simon from his pillar. How can a mother be so cruel as to harass, mock and accuse a young man – he is 22, even though his petulance and impetuousness are typically childish forms of resistance – who has to live with a disability in a uniform world? Is she just ashamed of him? She is called to the daycare center where Simon has settled without actually being registered, and says she doesn’t understand what she is doing there.

And yet. And yet! When we see Simon as a little boy on a home video, he is romping with his father, while Dad prompts his glib toddler to shoot lines out of his mouth. Hamlet. “Your head wasn’t shaking then,” notes Colo (Kiara Supini), his special friend from the center. “No, that was after the medication,” Simon mutters. It’s a catch-all excuse that should work. His new gang may live far away from the world, but chemical behavior modification is part of that secluded existence. Colo clearly sees through this, but shares with her friends the spontaneity that Simon clearly craves; she just doesn’t care.

Lorenzo Ferro is extraordinary as Simon. We learn almost nothing about his past; his future is up in the air. There is only his gift, where he gets involved in crazy games with the nursery, while he lets shy adolescent Colo flirt with him while making it clear that he is in any case not ready for sex, and goes to the movies for free with Pehuen, he knows all the tricks (and even taught them to the director, who was a drama teacher at a center like the one in the film; Pehuen was one of his students).

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The handheld camera follows Ferro closely; we never tire of his face wondering what mood or expression will erupt next. It is still the face of that innocent little Hamlet. To be or not to be? Simon seems to have decided not to deal with slings, arrows or a sea of ​​problems. Instead, he stays on top of his pillar and continuously matures. Who can blame him in the end?

Title: Simon van de Berg
Festival: Cannes (critics week)
Director: Federico Luis
Screenwriters: Federico Luis, Tomas Murphy, Agustin Toscano
Sales agent: Luxbox
Form: Lorenzo Ferro, Kiara Supini, Pehuen Pedre
Duration: 1 hour 38 minutes

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