FIPRESCI Revelation of the Year "yo – me" by Rafa Cortés

in 60th Cannes Film Festival

by Pamela Biénzobas

Every year, FIPRESCI presents its “Revelation of the Year” at a special screening during the “Critics’ Week” in Cannes. One film is chosen out of the first or second films awarded by the Federation during the previous year, in the belief that it deserves the chance to be seen by the Cannes audience, and that the Cannes audience deserves the chance to see it. This year’s Revelation is “me” (yo), the first feature film by Spanish filmmaker Rafa Cortés, discovered and awarded in Rotterdam 2007 “for its intense depiction of one man’s struggle to acquire an identity, its confident direction, and the well articulated, engaging performance of its lead”.

The first screening of the film in Cannes, which will be followed by a q&a with the filmmaker and actor/co-writer, will take place on Saturday, May 19, at 3:00 pm (15:00 h) at the Espace Miramar.

Twisted Games

The tension rises and settles in. The threat is in the air. But threat of what? People look so uncanny… or is it the gaze that is uncanny? me (yo) is built on suspense, mystery, ambiguity, suspicion. Using conventional forms, the film weaves a dense and tight fabric that no longer releases this tension, even when we know it’s absurd, like in a story by Cortázar. The protagonist fills the screen with the help of obvious resources, but that nevertheless make us share his dull anguish.

“me” takes easily recognizable codes and pushes them to the limit, to the point where the gap becomes evident. A gap in the character’s identity and in the spectator’s identification. A gap in the genres and in the structures. A gap and a twist. What if these signifiers, so clearly coded, were pushed so far that they were stripped of their signification, or at least of the one we expect? “me” plays with expectation, with the perception of others and of oneself. It also plays with the expectation and the perception of cinema. The film plays and invites us to play, by refusing to give any univocal explanation or interpretation.

With admirable formal and technical skill, and with strict constraints, self-imposed for the sake of rigor, it comfortably uses artifice to playfully show that cinema (or at least a certain one to which it relates) is nothing but artifice. There is no experimenting here, in the typical sense, but on the contrary a precise and mindful use of standard elements. Always with that slight, disturbing twist.