Two Shots Fired
Directed by Martín Rejtman
May 13–19 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Rejtman Retrospective
People put up with all sorts of nonsense, their own included, in Martín Rejtman’s shifting symphony of deadpan neurosis. Focused in its eccentricity and weirdly entertaining, Two Shots Fired is the first new feature in a decade from the writer-filmmaker whose 1990 debut Rapado lit a path to the New Argentine Cinema. Something of the film’s flavor is felt from the confounding opening, in which a bored, lawnmowing teenager chances upon a gun in the shed, carefully shoots himself twice, and survives, carrying on with a kind of weary poise.
Soon enough we’re acclimated to the family dynamic of Mariano, whose stern mother pursues fearful solutions that solve nothing, and whose brother shows a touching concern for the boy’s love life and sanity. Rejtman shuffles into the mix Mariano’s delightfully dorky rehearsals with a classical quartet—which has been disrupted by the harmonic Mariano now produces thanks to an embedded bullet—and soon Two Shots Fired proves to be made of stranger stuff than mere suburban haplessness and romantic misadventure, its shadowy interiors suggesting backwaters of the mind.
Peppered with the blips of ancient cellphones amid scrupulous soundscapes, Rejtman’s film circulates through his characters according to some unseen plan, content to dwell on their logistical obsessions and prickly routines. At some point the story spins off into a beach vacation taken by Mariano’s mother, who takes on new traveling companions, who in turn introduce their own little ecosystems of ways and means. “I prefer to just leave things like this,” the mother, who works in law, says of her overgrown backyard, and the attitude expresses a sense of inevitability underlying the film’s breakups and screw-ups.
Rejtman and DP Lucio Bonelli maintain a certain distance from these resigned characters, while Mariano and company themselves seem helpless to deviate from their bumpy trajectories. Modulating the game cast into an intelligent design and never throwing up his hands in whimsy, Rejtman understands his characters’ travails without giving the film over anyone entirely, and in so doing portrays their places in the world all the more aptly.