True confession. I didn’t get a thing from actress Romina Paul’s sleep-inducing docudrama/memoir “Again Once Again.” Nothing.
A post-partum depression essay on the stages of life, family history and cultural history, “De nuevo otra vez” is basically a series of staged scenes. Conversations, a party, long walks, tutoring sessions in German and slides shows accompanied by Paul’s voice-over narration tell us her personal story, her German-Argentinian family’s history and the existential crisis she’s hit a few years past thirty and three years after the birth of her little boy, Ramón.
“A few artists, a suicide, no real heroes” she says of her people, in Spanish (and occasionally German, when she’s tutoring or talking with her “raised her kids German” mother). Yes, and?
Paul, perhaps best known for her attachment to the 13 hour film “experiment” in six parts, “La Flor,” is staying with her mother, who gives her a break from the child-rearing (but not from advice on child-rearing) so that Romina can catch up with friends, go dancing at parties, “my desires running wild.”
But “we’re not separated,” she says of her husband Javi to others, and to Javi on the phone. She’s dallying a bit with others, “experimenting” romantically — just a bit. And she’s musing about the state of her relationship, her psyche (the kid is “suffocating” her, she admits at one point) and her place in the world of women.
Younger friends talk to the camera with a slide projected over them as they do, speaking of third generation feminism as “the daughter’s revolution.” Romina can’t quite grasp her place within that.
A guy she knows (Pablo Sigal) is Jewish and headed on a trip and needs German lessons. He too, gets a “testimonial” moment, speaking directly to the camera.
And her mother (Mónica Rank, I think, as virtually NO one is identified, even in dialogue) plays with the boy and urges the mother to start socializing him, and not just herself.
Not that she’s judging, mind you.
Paula gives us a superficial spin on what she’s going through, or what her film has her going through. But she’s an actress and feels like an unreliable narrator.
The situations are generally trite, and the philosophical musings have the feel of pages from a “deep thought for the day” calendar about them, a little profound, a bit pretentious.
The entire enterprise reeks not just of “privilege,” but of shallow, self-indulgent narcissistic entitlement. Yes, I am beautiful and famous, I have access to a good camera operator and we can stage these scenes like pros. “Again Once Again” never quite answers “But why would you?”
MPAA Rating: unrated, alcohol abuse, smoking
Cast: Romina Paula, Mónica Rank, Ramón Cohen Arazi, Pablo Sigal, Mariana Chaud, Denise Groesman.
Credits: Directed by Romina Paula, Rosario Cervio, script by Romina Paul. A Mubi release.
Running time: 1:24