SFIFF: LEAF BLOWER

LEAF BLOWER. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society.

LEAF BLOWER. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society.

Leaf Blower is an amiable Mexican slice-of-life comedy.  Three young guys are drifting rudderless though their adolescences, doing what teenage males do – wasting time, busting each others balls and achieving new heights of social awkwardness and sexual frustration.  Its first screening at the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) is on April 24, and director Alejandro Iglesias Mendizábal is expected to attend.

In his promising first feature, director and co-writer Iglesias Mendizábal has created an entirely character-driven portrait of male teen friendship and restlessness.  After all, the only real plot is whether they will find the keys that one of them dropped into a pile of leaves.   But we want to keep watching these guys to see what happens to them, and it’s all pretty funny.

  • Ruben (Alejandro Guerrero) is too cool for school.  He’s sure that he’s the only one in charge of his life – he just doesn’t know where he wants to go.  So he masks his indecision and avoidance by brooding.
  • Lucas (Fabrizio Santini) is nervous and a little hyper, but his bossy girlfriend totally paralyzes him with dread.  He’s always a day late and a peso short, the kind of guy who is stuck wearing his dirty soccer uniform to a funeral.
  • Emilio (Francisco Rueda) is constrained by his status as the fat kid (and I was a fat kid, so I relate).  Self-isolated, he yearns to be more social, but then counterproductively comforts himself with more and more calories.

All three are sexually awakened but inept.   Only Lucas has a girlfriend, and she causes him to sigh painfully every time his cellphone rings.  Ruben and Emilio are so intimidated by females that they’re too scared to even borrow a rake from one.

Come to think about it, Leaf Blower is not a pure coming of age movie because its characters don’t seem to grow or change as a result of their experiences.  It’s more of a “being-of-age” movie because they just are who they are.  Perceptive and observational, Leaf Blower is pretty far away from the American Pie kind of teen comedy.

The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) runs through May 5. Throughout the fest, I’ll be linking more festival coverage to my SFFIF 2016 page, including both features and movie recommendations. Follow me on Twitter for the very latest coverage.

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