It turns out that almost all of my expectations were met. Almost all.
Moko (Diego Catano) and Flama (Daniel Miranda) are two typical Mexico City teens. Moko's mom is off to visit an aunt, so she leaves the two friends alone for the afternoon. As it is Sunday, all they need is a large Coke, some potato chips and their copy of "Halo" for the Xbox and they are all set. A few minutes into the game, the power goes out. No video games, no television, no nothing. Now they have to figure out what to do. Rita (Danny Perea), a neighbor, arrives at the front door, asking to use their oven for her baking. Soon, Moko and Flama order a pizza and when the delivery guy (Enrique Arreola) is 11 seconds late, they refuse to pay. He refuses to leave and the four end up spending the rest of the day together in Moko's apartment.
Written and directed by Fernando Eimbcke, who apparently cut his teeth on music videos and short comedy films for Mexican television, "Duck Season" starts off promisingly, but lacks a key element for success.
The film begins with a series of 'snapshots' of the area in which Moko and Flama live. The area is poor, but these shots aren't about that, they are about establishing the time and place. The shots are really quite beautiful, enhanced by the black and white photography. But they also establish the mood and pacing of the story. Everything we are about to watch takes place on a Sunday afternoon, a very lazy Sunday afternoon. Nothing will happen quickly, so we watch this series of shots slowly fade away until we are in the apartment.
Moko and Flama are two typical 14 year olds. Not a lot on their mind, except for video games, they have a great deal of difficulty coming up with a past time after the power goes out. They sit for a while, they literally twiddle their thumbs for a while, they do this, and they do that. Nothing very exciting. This probably happens over the course of a few moments, but when you are a 14 year old, it seems like an eternity. The film does a great job of portraying how time moves for these two, immersing us in their world, their timeframe. Indeed, the beginning tests our patience. The whole film can't be just about watching these two sit around, can it? Just as Eimbcke has convinced us we will see nothing more, we are ready to begin the journey. We are in the same mind set as the two young men.
Ulises, the pizza delivery guy, provides an interesting counterpoint to the two young men. In his early 30s, he seems like a responsible guy, putting everything into his job. Then you remember his job is delivering pizzas. Later, we learn about a plan he has for the future and it makes him all the more sad. But his character doesn't act sad, for the most part. He seems to enjoy his life, holding out hope for the future.
Rita, the young neighbor, is very different. We don't get a sense of what she is about until very late in the film. She seems odd, initially forcing her way into the apartment to use the oven. When the first cake doesn't turn out, she helps herself to the kitchen and begins baking something else, creating a mess in the process.
All of this is great, and the black and white cinematography is very good as well. Everything is designed to create a definite sense of mood and place, giving us a glimpse into the lazy Sunday afternoon enjoyed by these characters.
What is missing is the sense of madcap adventure promised by the trailer. They have some interesting interactions and do some unusual things, but they happen few and far between. Just because they aren't doing anything, doesn't mean they have to do nothing. The point when we start to learn about these people comes very late in the film; we learn something about each person, making them more fully realized. But because we have to wait so long for this to happen, we need something else to happen in the meantime. It doesn't. All of this activity is crammed into the last half hour, when it would be more interesting to watch it gradually progress throughout.