Rating: 4 out of 5
Elderly widower Beto (Nolberto Coria) is a man with nothing more than routine and repetition to live for. Every day he wakes up to the buzz of an alarm clock at precisely the same time, showers, irons, sweeps, scrubs bathtubs, mows the lawn and carries out other domestic chores in a languid, methodical manner.
Writer-director Enrique Rivero revels in showing us these series of habitual tasks, painstakingly reiterated in long deliberate static shots, throughout the course of the film. Parque Via’s minimalism is done not to bore us - it’s done to show us that someone like Beto derives peace, not repression, from his solitary and quotidian existence.
Beto is the caretaker of an empty Mexico City villa for La Senora (Tesalia Huerta), an upper-class white woman who is outwardly rigid but bears sentimentality for her employee. After all, Beto has been living in, maintaining and up keeping her to-be-sold mansion for over three decades.
In those thirty odd years, an initially lonely man settled into a content man, like a zoo animal that no longer longs for the wild. His indoor, almost monastic life in a desolate house provides sanctuary for him from an increasingly alien and moiling world.
He gets his dose of reality from a flickering television set which relates to him news reports of violent, never-ending tragedy. Periodically Beto hires a hooker (Nancy Orozco) for a little bit of human companionship. Otherwise, any intrusions into his reclusion, such as visits from potential house buyers or eager realtors, are greeted with varying degrees of annoyance or suspicion.
As the mansion is eventually sold, we worry for Beto. To demonstrate his inability to adapt to the wilderness, a short visit to the supermarket leaves him flummoxed. Unable process the barrage of sights, sounds, and smells that come with the bustle of people, Beto becomes panic-stricken and collapses.
The realistic and un-idealistic tenor of the film even relates to the casting of its protagonist. Nolberto Coria isn’t a professional actor by trade; he is an actual housekeeper. Even if one assumes that Coria’s naturalistic performance is of him simply playing himself, the way Rivero captures his quiet dignity and minute facial intonations is splendid.
Parque Via is largely an observational account of an isolated, indwelling individual seeking a place to call his own and a simple world amidst an ever-industrious one. It’s just no longer possible – or is it?
The film’s jolting and brutal conclusion is idiosyncratic to its hitherto languorous tint but just goes to show what kind of drastic measures a man might take to preserve his way of life.
While many may see Beto’s clinginess to a self-conjured facsimile of real life as sad, this film does also remind us that within the mayhem of modern society, there’s something to be said for appreciating the simple things.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for MetroWize Asia.
Hidzir was the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.