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Fernando Eimbcke’s two previous features Duck Season (2004) and Lake Tahoe (MFF 2009) are both charming, hilarious and insightful coming-of-age stories about Mexican teenagers, and the same can be said of his latest. But these wonderful earlier films barely prepare viewers for the revelation that is Club Sandwich, a tender, quiet, and sly masterpiece of a comedy in which the adults have at least as much growing up to do as the teenagers.
Fifteen-year-old Hector and his thirty-something mother Paloma are vacationing at a sleepy resort near the beach, ordering room service and lounging by the pool. They enjoy a lackadaisical but unusually close rapport, eventually disrupted by the arrival of Jazmin, a girl Hector’s age who’d like to get to know him better. It’s a simple setup—but the ramifications the teens’ awkward first flirtations will have for the two of them are profound, not to mention the effect it has on Paloma to see her son caught up in his first stirrings of romance.
Beautifully shot by Maria Secco (a guest at MFF 2010 with Cold Water of the Sea), Eimbcke’s film is an incomparable stew of poignant drama and gentle comedy, spiced with just a dash of transgression. It’s that rare cinematic masterwork that’s also a crowd-pleaser: laugh out loud funny, surprising, and eminently relatable. With Club Sandwich, Eimbcke steps into the ranks of the top filmmakers at work anywhere on the globe. (Eric Allen Hatch)