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Murmurs in a South American Morgue
It's the assumption, isn't it: someone surrounded by death all the time ends up feeling more familiar with those who've passed on than with the living human beings they are forced to interact with each day. They become isolated and insular, absorbed by the finality of existence without seeing the freedom and joy just outside their mortuary or morgue door. Naturally, something comes along to awaken their otherwise mordant and morbid curiosity, setting in motion a series of events that puts everything back into balance and sheds light where there once was none. In the case of My Time Will Come (translated from the original title Cuando me toque a mi), we have a local city pathologist named Dr. Arturo Fernandez (Manuel Calisto Sánchez) who becomes obsessive and protective of the cases he must investigate. One day, a predawn murder so intrigues him that he decides to venture out to do a little investigating on his own. In doing so, he comes face to face with the people really affected by the crime, causing him to question his unusual connection to his "patients" as well as the purpose of being cut off from the rest of society.
With only his second feature film, writer/director Victor Arregui argues for the emergence of Ecuador as a cinematic stronghold. Adapting the novel De que nada se sabe, he creates an intriguing portrait of a personality stunted, of a delicate defense mechanism employed to keep the pain of loss and the daily dealing of/with death at psychological arm's length. Sometimes funny, occasionally frightening, the film plays like a glorified glimpse from an unseen fly on the wall. We get a chance to watch Dr. Fernandez in his everyday mannerism, his discomfort with the living, his remoteness and drawn individuality. When the killing comes along, it announces itself as a catalyst, and since My Time Will Come plans on playing this particularly pat card over and over again, we simply hope that Arregui has something solid to offer. Luckily, he does, delivering a kind of intimate, intricate narrative which constantly makes mountains out of the smallest, least significant molehills. By the end, as apparently disparate threads are being tied together, we see both the literary and artistic influence on the storyline.
This doesn't mean that My Time Will Come is always wholly compelling. In fact, the movie's microcosm can be quite stilted at times. Dr. Fernandez lacks the kind of quirky depth we need to see his choices represent anything other than fear and loathing. Similarly, the other characters that congregate here bring little more to the table than revelation fodder. Finding the end is all the plot really wants—everything else is up to Arregui and his ability behind the lens saves this film from time to time. Sure, his camerawork is observational and occasionally too reverent, and we can see the novice within still working out some the moves that make cinema strong. While never really boring, My Time Will Come is frequently flummoxed by a tendency to telegraph, to suggest something only to confirm it outright several minutes later. This causes the viewer to invalidate some of what is happening, knowing that it will get a fuller explanation later on. Without said stumbles, however, this becomes a decent, if far from definitive, portrait of one lonely person, and the particulars of how he came to be better…much better.
As they do with many of their titles, the Global Film Initiative does a decent job with the DVD release. They provide a clean, crisp 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image with few defects, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix (with excellent English subtitles) and an explanatory guide to the movie itself. Since few know much of Ecuador, this material is helpful. Still, one could really use a commentary track from Arregui, since there are moments that mandate some sort of explanation or defense. While enlightening and involving, it's hard to call My Time Will Come entirely entertaining. Instead, it's a curio made even more unusual by the subject matter and the story told.
Not Guilty. Good, but far from great.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Global Film Initiative
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