The title of Gastón Solnicki’s mesmerizing Kékszakállú comes from the Hungarian name of Béla Bartók’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle. Bartók’s opera provides the unlikely inspiration for this exploratory narrative about the lives of a group of Argentine girls on the precipice of adulthood who are grappling with the complexities of the transition. The young girls come from Argentina’s vanishing upper class,
and while their lives offer them a number of advantages, their malaise is largely a product of their insular, entitled upbringings. Unprepared for the world they are being thrust into, each girl finds life outside of the womb of privilege to be unexpectedly challenging.
Solnicki employs cinematographers Diego Poleri and Fernando Lockett to stunning effect. Together the team creates a collection of some of the more indelible images that have graced festival screens in recent years, cinematic tableaus that use time and place to highlight the isolation of the characters and patiently observe their tentative steps into a complicated new phase of life. Associate produced by Baltimore’s own Matt Porterfield, Kékszakállú is a bold new approach to the coming-of-age film. Fans of Michelangelo Antonioni and Tsai Ming-liang should take note of this stunning work. (Scott Braid)