Hermia & Helena
Agustina Muñoz, Maria Villar, Mati Diop,
Foreknowledge of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is by no means required to enjoy Argentine writer-director Matías Piñeiro’s quasi-adaptation. Agustina Muñoz stars as a young theater director who departs Buenos Aires for a fellowship residency in New York, ostensibly to translate Shakespeare’s play into Spanish. Complications gently ensue, with game turns from a companionable cast full of indie-film notables including Keith Poulson, Mati Diop, Dustin Guy Defa, and Dan Sallitt. Piñeiro and cinematographer Fernando Lockett have a gracious and easygoing way of following people around, favoring human gestures even amidst periodic flourishes of formal experimentation. It all has a decidedly Bard-like aspect of deeply engaged creative playfulness, though the filmmaker’s voice is fully his own. It’s also a neat trick that this low-key tale of lostness in translation becomes a resonant affirmation of cultural commonality. Piñeiro handles heady stuff with a wonderfully light touch, and the film casts a lasting spell with its genuine intimacy, ephemeral beauty, and unpretentious vitality.