Writer-director Azazel Jacob's bittersweet, wistfully minimalist comedy charts a day and a half in the lives of two restless, unhappy men — both named Rodolfo Cano — and the woman who finds herself trapped in the mesh of their discontents.
Rodolfo I (Jacobs) wakes up in the Echo Park house he shares with his girlfriend, Diaz (Sara Diaz); it's his birthday, and she's eager to patch up their obviously strained relationship. He rejects her efforts and stalks out. Rodolfo II (Gerardo Naranjo) wakes up with a wicked hangover; he lives alone in a cluttered boat with a nonworking engine, permanently moored in a crowded marina. The Rodolfos first cross paths at an army induction center: Rodolfo I has enlisted, but Rodolfo II got the call up. Rodolfo II tries to talk to his sullen doppelganger and gets the same sullen brush-off Diaz got. But he's intrigued and has nothing better to do, so he cautiously follows him home and overhears the inevitable ugly spat: Poor Diaz has made the mistake of arranging a birthday celebration and is left in tears when Rodolfo I storms out for the second time in one day.
Over the course of a long night and a scrap of the next morning, Rodolfo I skips his own birthday party, gets his ass kicked at a local bar and hooks up with an old girlfriend (Melissa Paull), while Rodolfo II forges a tentative friendship with Diaz, who's understandably wary of the man she dubs "Depresso," a downcast stranger who stumbles into the worst day of her recent life and dogs her heels like some needy stray.
Jacobs, the son of experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs, favors lengthy shots over rapid-fire cutting and images over words — several sequences play out almost entirely free of dialogue. His second independent feature, cowritten by Naranjo and coproduced by Diaz, will play best to fans of filmmakers like Aki Kaurismaki and Jacques Rivette, whose loosely structured tales of thwarted relationships, missed connections and everyday mishaps wend their way to open-ended conclusions at a casually unhurried pace. That said, the film's pared-down narrative is anything but aimless, and it pays off in a haunting final last scene scored with Gang of Four's "Damaged Goods." — Maitland McDonagh leave a comment