The press notes for Duck Season report that the film received 11 Ariels, the Mexican equivalent of the U.S. O scars. After watching the film, I went on a fact-finding mission to determine what kind of categories this four-character comedy-drama set almost entirely inside a single apartment could possibly conquer so decisively.
Maybe I was blind to that apartment’s marvels of architecture, because the Ariel categories turn out to be pretty much the same as the Oscars; Duck Season won Best Art Direction, as well as awards for cinematography, sound, editing, and acting. It lost in the costume category, which is clearly an outrage; the Rancid shirt that one kid wears is at least as good as the design of the couch, chairs, and tables.
This brief story of two teenage boys, a girl, and a lonely pizza delivery guy bonding on a Sunday afternoon isn’t without its charms. Shot in blue-ish black-and-white, it captures low-key adolescent confusion with bittersweet ease. In fact, it’s almost too low-key; Daniel Miranda and Diego Catano, as the young best friends, quickly establish that the indie-movie trend of unsmiling, monoexpressive child actors may in fact be an international phenomenon. Appropriately, the ennui is diluted by Rita (Danny Perea), the girl who visits her neighbors to do some thoroughly mediocre baking.
The film perpetually gears up for deadpan laughs, but it’s too touchy-feely to develop as a comedy. Writer-director Fernando Eimbcke finds a few poetic images centered around a painting of ducks; if only they weren’t underlined by mawkish, March of the Penguins-grade duck metaphors about the importance of friendship. Duck Season is a tiny movie with a heart several sizes too big.