Empty Nest (El Nido Vacío) Directed by: Daniel Burman Cast: Oscar Martinez, Cecilia Roth Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: Unrated Release Date: August 21, 2009
Plot: A married man (Martinez) tries to find his place in his family after his grown children have all left home.
Who’s It For? Fans of sophisticated foreign films.
Expectations: I just wanted an enjoyable film, I knew very little about this one.
Oscar Martinez as Leonardo: A celebrated playwright at loose ends, Leonardo is having problems working, reading, and judging reality. Martinez plays him straight, to the point where judging what's "real" and "fake" becomes problematic. Though the story was interesting, it was also a bit confusing a times; especially trying to figure out what Leonardo's motivations were. He seemed more a bundle of quirks walking blindly through the film then a realized character. I can't say whether that is the fault of the filmmaker or the actor, but I can't give him great marks. Score: 5
Cecilia Roth as Martha: Martha, Leonardo's wife, is a beautiful and vivacious woman. She's always laughing, talking, in the middle of something. She seems an odd match for her quiet, peace loving husband. Roth's a beautiful woman and you wonder why Leonardo contemplates other women when he has such a fun and popular wife. I can't say Roth had a ton to do, but I did have a sense of who she was, more so than her husband. Score: 6
Talking: It's a Spanish language film so the dialogue is all subtitled. A lot of upper middle class small talk, like the beginning of a Michael Haneke movie. Score: 6
Sights: The shots of Israel are beautiful. The rest of the film's a bit drab looking though. No vibrant colors or beautiful close ups or anything like that. Score: 5
Sounds: I liked some of the background music, specifically in the mall scene. There wasn't enough of it though to make much of an impact. Score: 5
Best Scene: At the end when Leonardo and Martha are lying in the Dead Sea. It's not only beautiful looking but it's the first moment they really seem to connect. Also, it took me that long for the movie to finally make sense.
Ending: The ending was suitable, it made sense in the context of the film. But it also felt a little anticlimactic, in the sort of, it-was-all-just-a-dream vein.
Questions: Could the film have worked without the bookends at the beginning and end?
Rewatchability: I'd be interested to see how everything works given the context that it's all a story told from one specific perspective ... but not that interested.
Empty Nest tells the story of a couple who have to struggle to find themselves after their children grow up and move out. It starts out as a fairly simple story of a couple but becomes complicated by a series of events that may or may not be occurring only in Leonardo's mind. At that point, I became so busy trying to figure out what was "real" and what was "imagined" that I was really distracted. Also certain scenes feel very disjointed, they just seem to stop and go into another scene without warning and it took me a minute to figure out what was going on. The film started off well, but became progressively more confusing. Though it ultimately came together, I felt like it would have been much better if I hadn't been so confused.
Final Score: 5/10