Duck Season

Opens at Varsity, Fri., March 24. Rated R. 85 minutes.

A case of patience rewarded, this irresistibly silly, charming Mexican indie is, literally, a film about boredom. Two 14-year-old boys face the worst and most calamitous crisis that 14-year-old boys could imagine: At the height of a bloody Halo battle on Xbox, bin Laden versus Bush in their first-person shooter game, the power goes out! How could they possibly occupy the rest of a parentally unsupervised Sunday? It's a disaster, and they've apparently been ordered not to leave the apartment by Mario's mother, who left them with enough money to have a pizza delivered. And if the poor delivery guy should happen to arrive seconds after the free-pizza cutoff time, and if a nonpayment standoff should develop between him and the two kids—well, it's impossible not to recommend a film where they use his motorcycle helmet to see how many times they can bash their heads against the wall, then stagger away dizzy.

Shot in black-and-white, Fernando Eimbcke's debut feature boasts one of those "presented by" credits from Alfonso Cuarón, whose Y Tu Mamá También could be seen as the older sibling to Duck Season. The taller and more ungainly redheaded Mario (Daniel Miranda) and cuter, darker Juan Pablo (Diego Cataño) are barely pubescent, as their Xbox devotion proves. There are only hints of future sex lives in the touch of hands and a kitchen kiss a neighbor girl steals from Juan Pablo, who isn't sure he likes it. This 16-year-old Rita (Danny Perea) barges into Mario's apartment to use the oven, and she's got an assertively unhinged approach to both cooking and boys. They try to ignore her, but she's the next best thing to Xbox, and she brings her own electricity to the place.

Meanwhile, pizza guy Ulises (Enrique Arreola), perhaps in his early 20s, is gradually pulled from his sit-down strike to couch and conversation. Though at first rebuffed by Mario (made bratty by his folks' looming divorce), the gentle, bespectacled deliveryman tells how he came to Mexico City to care for an aunt, then somehow ended up with a job killing dogs at a kennel. Here Eimbcke abruptly cuts away from the quiet apartment, where his minimalist camera work nods to Ozu and Jarmusch. There's a bit of Amores Perros horror and shock to these exterior scenes; the cake making and video games and haggling over the pizza bill are a way of keeping this outside adult world at bay. Boredom is a defense for these kids, a refuge where they can watch the dripping tap and break the family china in idle, impulsive behaviors that seem to unfold in real time.

Indeed, we forget how slowly time passes in our youthful perception. Adulthood seems an eternity away. Though only 85 minutes long, Duck Season crams in both the longing of that age—that childhood will never, ever end—and the liminal awareness that when it does end, things will never again be so good. Too much time is torture, until you run out.

 
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