A unique take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hermia & Helena by Matías Piñeiro follows the sojourn of an Argentine theatre director in New York City. The director’s previous works include Viola, a take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and The Princess of France. The filmmaker’s obsession with the sixteenth century writer is evident, but this particular story is close to his heart, as it mirrors his own reality. The movie is inspired by his own experience in the city of New York, where he came to study. The movie portrays the very chilled, laid-back mood of the city, as compared to the loud and colorful city of Buenos Aires.
The movie is divided into several chapters, named like its title, such as ‘Carmen & Camila’, ‘Gregg & Camila’, and so on, delving into the lives and relationships of two characters at a time. It begins with Carmen (María Villar) leaving her institute and rental apartment in NYC, and Camila (Agustina Muñoz) replacing her in both. Just like the play, Carmen & Camila are versions of Hermia & Helena, sharing friendships and relationships. The rest of the movie delves into Camila’s stay in the city, her relationship with campus coordinator Lukas (Keith Poulson) and filmmaker Gregg (Dustin Guy Defa), a flashback to her past relations, and her discovery of her biological father.
Following the pattern of the movie can be slightly confusing, as it is interspersed with flashbacks, constantly jumping from one timeline to the other. By the end of it, the only character that you can connect with is Camila, as various other characters only serve the purpose of revealing various facets about her life. Like the audience, Camila, too, is torn between the present and the past, grappling with her new environment and relationships. At the end, it is her experience that stays with you, more than the personal connections she forms over time.
If you are still watching movies at MAMI, Hermia & Helena is happening again on Day 7 at PVR Kurla, at 4.30 PM. It may not be the movie to watch, but it certainly touches a soft spot somewhere.