Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Review: Slamdance Jury Prize Winner “Rezeta" Provides a Showcase for Newcomer Fernando Frias

By Emma Myers | Indiewire January 31, 2014 at 11:53AM

Taking home the Jury Award for Narrative Feature at Slamdance, "Rezeta" at times may seem as desultory as its titular character, but it steadily proves itself to be a deft and droll observation on the fleeting nature of relationships.
0
"Rezeta."
"Rezeta."

"How many guys have you been with?" Alex (Roger Mendoza) hesitantly asks his new girlfriend, Rezeta (Rezeta Veliu). It's a question the attractive Albanian model freshly arrived in Mexico City undoubtedly gets a lot. And indeed, over the course of writer-director Fernando Frias' debut feature (named for the pretty face at its center), we've already seen her in bed with three different men. Taking home the Jury Award for Narrative Feature at Slamdance, "Rezeta" at times may seem as desultory as its titular character, but it steadily proves itself to be a deft and droll observation on the fleeting nature of relationships.

Arriving in the big city with few connections and virtually no knowledge of the Spanish language, Rezeta's good looks are her bread and butter and she manages to get steady work with relative ease. As she attends casting calls and books photo shoots, Frias humorously highlights the exploitative nature of the modeling industry even as he glosses its dark side. In one particularly amusing scene, "Booty Bass's "Shake That Ass Bitch" blasts as four leggy femmes are made to dance to a casting director’s cues: "Sad! Angry! Sexy! Slutty!" he yells mechanically from off camera.

The first real connection Rezeta makes is through a serendipitous encounter with Alex, a punk-musician who does maintenance work for extra cash. Although there is clearly a flirtatious charge in the air as the two compare notes on tattoos, their relationship remains on the platonic backburner while Rezeta takes up with a series of gentleman callers—first a mustached photographer (Sebastian Cordova) closely followed by a fetching writer (Emiliano Becerríl).

Neither of these dalliances seem particularly deep—the first exists exclusively in the feverish realm of pleasure, while the second is plagued by its absence—and as one relationship bleeds into the next, we find we know as little about Rezeta as we did when the film began. "She doesn’t share her past with me. I think she knows nothing," her second boyfriend complains to a friend one day, and the only consolation he's able to offer is: "Man, she's a model, what do you expect?" It's a stereotype the film both relies on and challenges as the question of whether or not there is more to the eponymous character than meets the eye is posed in various ways but never really answered.

Moving forward with elliptical stealth, time is demarcated only by Rezeta's improvement in Spanish—a process greatly expedited by the old school label-maker Alex buys her to help increase her vocabulary— and it's her friendship-cum-romance with the punk-rocker that is given the most weight in the film. Whether they're languorously biking around Mexico City or conversing while getting tattooed, the progression of their relationship is narrated as much through the visuals as it is through the naturalistic script, and the director’s freewheeling aesthetic does justice both to his characters and to the environment they inhabit. Relying on non-professional actors—Veliu is in reality an Albanian refugee turned model and Mendoza a musician—Frias has harnessed the real-life personas of his players to great avail, leaving room for improvisation along the way.

Populated by sketches rather than characters, the sparse nature of the script proves the key to its depth, as "Rezeta" seems more concerned with the nature of relationships in abstraction that it does with concrete plot details. Frank in its depiction of eroticism and emotion alike, Frias' ability to articulate the ephemeral aspects of human connection elevates his film to something greater than the sum of its itinerant parts, establishing him as a talent to watch.

Criticwire Grade: B+

HOW WILL IT PLAY? With the clout of Slamdance's top prize, "Rezeta" is likely to gain traction on the festival circuit and has the potential to land a small distribution deal that will hopefully extend beyond VOD, though it will find most of its viewers there.


This article is related to: Reviews, Rezeta, Luis Fernando Frías, Fernando Frias, Festivals, Slamdance Film Festival






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More