A film by Marino Llinás
Balnearios, Mariano Llinás, Argentina, 2002, 81 minutes
This is one of those film essays composed of episodes, fragments, ideas, enumerations, archives, memories and fictions that mix together with absolute freedom to invent/reinvent a cinema that is based both on literature and the oral tradition and on the idea of encyclopaedia. The result is a collection of customs and stories from the spas – or summer holiday towns – of Argentina.
“The film is a result of joining very different places and very different ideas,” says Llinás. “I am a nostalgic holidaymaker, so I was always obsessed with the idea of the empty and ghostly out of season seaside resort. It is undoubtedly a Felliniesque idea, worthy of the fanatic that I am of the Italian director.”
Submerged towns, lifeguards, turn-of-the-century hotels, mermaids, wafer sellers, dikes, municipal spas, marine animals and sandcastles all appear in a varied and disconcerting essay. The idea of towns devoted solely to leisure, water and rest, uninhabited in winter and crowded in summer, and packed with ornaments and marine names, is, to some extent, fascinating in itself. It is this fascination that is at the centre of the film.
Llinás is one of the most important directors to have emerged from the University of Film. Student first, and later teacher, his name made the headlines of the critical reviews with his great work Historias Extraordinarias (2008), a film that shocked festivals and audiences. Balnearios, his debut feature, already includes many of the obsessions present in his later work: the voice-over, the importance of the story, the playing with time, the narrative freedom, the mixture of genres and, above all, his unconditional love for a cinema understood as a playground and creative space.