Dir/scr:Fernando Eimbcke. Mexico. 2004. 90mins

Fouryears ago, Critics' Week unearthed Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's AmoresPerros. While Temporado De Patos has little chance of emulating theinternational success of Inarritu's film, which grossed over $5m in the US andsold worldwide, Fernando Eimbcke's likeable debut feature looks likely to enjoya long life on the festival circuit.

Itshould also have strong appeal for specialist distributors. Shot strikingly inblack-and-white and boasting a deadpan, surrealist humour reminiscent of JimJarmusch's early work, this is an easy film to warm to.

Thesetting is a run-down estate somewhere in the middle of Mexico City. It isSunday, 11am. Mum has gone out for the day, leaving her 14-year-old son Flama(Miranda) and his best friend Moko (Catano) to their own devices. The two boyssit around in their high-rise apartment, killing time.

Eimbckebegins the film with a series of artful establishing shots, which underlinewhat a monotonous environment the two boys live in. The clouds are permanentlyovercast. The walls are strewn with graffiti. The children's playground isright next to a busy freeway. Huge pylons loom over the landscape. With thissort of backdrop, it is little wonder that the boys want to stay indoors.

Asthey kick their feet in the apartment, the boys finally decide it would be agood idea to order a pizza. Thus, Ulises the hapless pizza delivery man(Arreola) is introduced. (He has the comic gravity of Peter Sellers' Chance TheGardener in Being There and is the only adult who features prominentlyin the film.) The boys don't want to pay for the pizza as it took so long toarrive. Ulises won't leave without his money. So begins a Mexican stand-off.

Inthe end, the trio comes to an agreement: they will play computer footballagainst one another. If the pizza delivery man wins, he will be paid in full.The fourth protagonist is the next-door neighbour Rita (Parea), a voluptuous16-year-old who is busy baking a cake in the kitchen.

Nothingmuch happens in Temporado De Patos.Most of the action is confined to the apartment and the film takes its titlefrom the sitting-room's hideous painting of ducks, which comes to obsessUlises. Eimbcke direction is minimal; dialogue is sparse and there is littlemusic. However, in its own oblique way the film is dealing with themes familiarfrom countless other coming-of-age sagas ' sexual curiosity, rebelliousness andmale friendship.

Rita'scake turns out to be marijuana-laden, a plot device which allows Eimbcke to throwin a few delirious, dream-like sequences accompanied by a Beethoven symphony.As Ulises becomes more stoned, the duck painting springs to life. The two boysgo on a brief wrecking spree, using an air gun to take pot shots at all thecrockery hanging on the walls.

Eimbckeis a director of music videos but there is nothing flashy about his techniquehere. What most impresses is the subtlety of his approach: his wry,observational storytelling, his willingness to hold a shot, his low-key, hisoff-beat humour and his ability to elicit unaffected and spontaneousperformances from his four leads.

Prodcos: Cinepantera,Lulu Producciones
Int'l sales:
Funny Balloons
Main cast:
EnriqueArreola, Daniel Miranda, Diego Catano, Danny Parea