Two teams face off on an indoor soccer court, one squad in fluorescent orange vests against another in fluorescent yellow. The camera looks on from above, angled a few degrees to the right like a head cocked in confusion. Over Schumann’s Spring Symphony, the teams play as, one by one, the orange players exchange their vests for yellow ones until only the orange goalkeeper remains. As the music swells, the orange player runs away into the Buenos Aires night, pursued by the yellows in a bright line.
This is the most interesting scene in director Matías Piñeiro’s The Princess of France, and has little clear connection to what follows: 55 minutes of brunet(te)s with prominent cheekbones reciting Shakespeare in translation and kissing each other in close-up.
Piñeiro loves a close-up. As his actors repeat lines — as part of a radio play, as part of the shifting plot— the camera holds tightly to their faces, forcing the viewer to notice the way the sun illuminates the soft down of a cheek, the curve of a nostril, a stray eyebrow hair because there’s nothing else to look at, and Piñeiro offers no entry into the story.
At just barely over an hour, The Princess of France is ostensibly about radio producer Victor (Julián Larquier Tellarini) putting together a production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, but it seems mainly to concern itself with the women around him jockeying for a role in the play and trying to kiss him in secret. Victor begins and remains a cipher, leaving the movie little beyond unusual camera angles and confusing repetition.
The Princess of France (La Princesa de Francia)
Directed by Matías Piñeiro
Opens June 26, Film Society of Lincoln Center