Melbourne International Film Festival: Two Shots Fired (Argentina, 2014)

With apparently no story arc, protagonist or resolution, Two Shots Fired moves away from conventional story structure and becomes an observational film focusing on events and physical journeys and location, rather than a personal exposition. Directed by Martin Rejtman, this Argentinian film dwells on the mundane happenings of life with an array of commonplace events. This realignment of narrative storytelling offers an almost voyeuristic look into the “everyday” exposing silence and movement which unfurl in between.

The film opens with Mariano (Rafael Federman) coming back home after dancing at a nightclub. We see him perform his daily routine: he eats, swims laps, mows the lawn, finds a gun in his tool shed and then shoots himself twice. Once in the head and once in the stomach. He miraculously survives and life goes on. There is absolutely no drama, explanation or even reaction around this event and his reasoning when asked about his attempted suicide is brushed off as “It was a spontaneous decision… It was a hot day”.  His mother Susana (Susana Pampin), reacts by ordering Chinese food and then compulsively hiding all sharp objects, first locking them in her cupboard and then burying them in her garden. His brother Ezequiel (Benjamin Coehlo), takes him out to a fast food joint and they eat hamburgers, with Ezequiel preferring to order a chicken burger and beef burger but putting the chicken pattie into the beef burger. Strangely enough, the only issue that Mariano seems to have is that he is part of a recorder quartet with bi weekly rehearsals, however since shooting himself his breath has separated into two notes. In this way, there is almost a pass the parcel aspect to this narrative with each character passing the film around, revealing a layer and then moving on without resolution.

It is almost as though the film is awash with call to actions that the characters do not take. There could be an array of potential narratives such as a blooming romance between Ezequiel and the girl who serves Ezequiel burgers (Camila Fabbri), or the want for drama when Susana goes on a beach trip with some strangers, or even a potential dog-knap when Susana thinks she recognises her lost dog. However all these call to adventures which could add dynamism, character want, need and drive into the film are all refused and life carries on with un-eventuated events. However, in saying all this, Two Shots Fired is strangely and ironically relatable as it echos a truth to a life that we, the audience understand and to an extent, live in. We could almost be watching ourselves. The film can then be said to be a representation or a microcosm of working class Argentina, a collection of stories and lives from a suburb, community or city.

And so, when viewing the film from this perspective you begin to understand why the characters still have your attention as they undoubtedly remind us of people we know and events that we partake in on a daily basis. This is what makes the film interesting; the almost retrospective quality that Two Shots Fired demands. However this required narrative abandonment limits the audience as the film as a whole is a touch too indirect and subversive and unfortunately would never hold up outside of the festival audience. Overall, what Rejtman achieves with Two Shots Fired is a glimpse into commonplace events that glimmer amongst the droll of the everyday. He reclaims space and rather than rely on personal narrative, lets locations, instruments and surroundings speak to us instead.

<b>Review Score:</b> THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

<I>Two Shots Fired</I> had its Australian Premiere as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival. For more details: http://miff.com.au/program/film/two-shots-fired.