EL FUTURO PERFECTO (The Future Perfect)
Director: Nele Wohlatz
Written by: Pio Longo, Nehle Wahlatz
Cast: Zhang Xiaobin, Saroj Malik, Jiang Mian, Wang Dong Xi, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 8/27/17
Opens: September 15, 2017
If you wonder why your Korean-American dry cleaner does not always understand your requests, or even less why he laughs at something you say that you do not consider funny, imagine how you would feel if you moved from the States to South Korea. How long do would require to pick up the language, which is written with a different script as well? And might you not wonder off, lost among the street signs, and wind up in North Korea?
“El Futuro Perfecto” is not about the politics of North Korea but it is about finding your way if you have emigrated to a country with a different language. Think especially of someone accustomed her whole, young life to Mandarin and then trying to fit into a place using the Latin script. In this case, eighteen-year-old Xiaobin (Zhang Xiaobin) has rejoined her Chinese family in Argentina. Her folks own a laundry and dry cleaning service in Buenos Aires. Her mother would like her to give up her job in a supermarket because she is not bringing home enough money. More important, Xiaobin is sure that if she marries someone who is not ethnically Chinese, her parents would be so unhappy that they would “break furniture.”
This does not stop Xiaobin from doing what she likes, and even after she is fired from a supermarket for not understanding the customers, she gets another job in a deli, where she meets Vijay (Saroj Malik), an émigré from India,who asks her out. The two of them meet, and if their conversations are stiff, it’s more of a language problem than a psychological one. None of this stops Vijay from proposing to her, wanting to live for the rest of his life with her, though stating he would agree to live anywhere she would like.
The story itself is simple enough and would scarcely break any ground if this were simply a coming-of-age drama, but instead, director Nele Wohlatz puts across an unpretentious look at language classes, which usually deal which such issues as “Where is the nearest Metro?” or How can I find the bathroom?” Berlitz method is on exhibit here and best of all, Zhang Xiaobin does a super job genuinely creating the emotions of a pescado sin agua. We can never be sure whether Xiaobin is imaging the people she meets, simply describing her adventures as though recounting a dream, or whether she is really living a life representative of most people who uproot themselves to go to countries with different cultures and languages. In other words, everything we see here is adorable, and the conflict she has with her mother is so without the strong emotions that come out in melodramatic stories that we empathize and sympathize with everyone we see on the screen except for that creep who tries to steal a bottle of wine.
Unrated. 65 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Comments, readers? Agree? Disagree? Why?
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B
Overall – B