Ano Una (The Year Of The Nail) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/11/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 78 mins

The fact that the film unfolds entirely in still photographs may seem excessively arthouse, but this is a surprisingly engaging, impressively directed and ultimately moving coming-of-age drama.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jonas Cuaron (son of Alfonso), Ano Una (The Year of the Nail) is a Mexican coming-of-age drama that's comprised entirely of a series of still photographs, mostly in black and white. There are two main characters: Diego (Duck Season's Diego Catano). a perpetually horny 14-year-old who lives in Mexico City with his mother and constantly lusts after his cousin, Emilia (Emilia Garcia); and Molly (Eireann Harper), a 21 year-old American who's spending her summer break travelling around Mexico and is frequently embarrassed by her obnoxious travelling companion, Katie (Katie Hegarty).

Several months later, Molly returns to Mexico on her own and rents a room in Diego's house. Diego instantly develops a massive crush on Molly and is overjoyed when his mother allows them to spend a week at his grandmother's house by the beach.

The Good
The stills technique is surprisingly engaging throughout, to the point that after a while, you barely even notice it. Each still is accompanied by either the thoughts of the character or the dialogue of the scene, with low-level background noise for atmosphere; the style of the film ultimately achieves its emotional pay-off when, towards the end of the film, Diego wishes he could freeze the moment and live it forever.

The Great
The technique is also used to humorous effect, such as a shower scene where Diego is thinking about his cousin (we see only the shower curtain) and is then interrupted by his mother opening the bathroom door. It also allows for amusing, Annie Hall-esque contrasts – for example, Molly compares Diego favourably to previous boyfriends and thinks that boys are so romantic at that age, while Diego is only thinking about having sex with her.

Worth seeing?
Ano Una is an original, superbly directed and thoroughly engaging coming-of-age drama that deserves to be seen. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 18/12/2017 12:59

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