Buenos Aires, Argentina...
Twenty-four year old Paula (Antonella Costa) has no idea how to pay her debts. Her father isn't willing to help, her friends are nowhere to be found, her job at the local restaurant is a joke. Faced with a possible eviction Paula decides to earn a few extra pesos by spending the night with men twice her age.
The money are easy! And so is dealing with her clients. They are fast, somewhat gentle, and financially secure. But what was meant to be a quick way out becomes a pleasurable gig Paula is faced with a dilemma she does not know hot to solve.
A fearless exploration of a young woman whose life unexpectedly turns into a hellish nightmare Hoy Y Manana a.k.a Today and Tomorrow (2003) is also a film that provides an uncomfortable look at Argentina's recent economic troubles and those who were left struggling to make ends meet. Bleak, at times vulgar, Today and Tomorrow cuts right into the heart of a country on the path of self-destruction.
Despite of the fact that the story of Today and Tomorrow seems rather intimate and the viewer isn't really granted the opportunity to see beyond what Paula must overcome Argentinean director Alejandro Chomski and especially cinematographer Guillermo Nieto have managed to assemble a picture that if read properly reveals plenty. From the backstreets of Buenos Aires where prostitutes are running their corners to the trendy clubs where drugs are being freely exchanged this film truly sends an alarming message.
Of course Today and Tomorrow is just as equally impressive if seen only as the downfall of a woman whose desire to remain independent costs her dearly. The psychological transformation which Paula undergoes in a matter of hours is not only heartbreaking it is without a doubt stunning. The "normal" girl we see in the opening scenes of Chomski's film is quickly replaced by a woman whose face reveals every parent's worst nightmare: defeat.
Above all however Today and Tomorrow I sense was meant to create an uncomfortable feeling amongst those whose opinion counts: politicians, intellectuals, perhaps even fellow film producers. The cynicism oozing from the screen is undoubtedly disturbing and if it does not ring a bell with Argentinean statesmen then something in this country is indeed profoundly wrong.
Screened at the Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard) and winner of the Best First Film Award at the Los Angeles Latino Film Festival (2005) Today and Tomorrow also marks the arrival of an incredibly talented young Argentinean actress whose future work I am impatient to see. In 2007 Antonella Costa will be seen in Mexican director Paul Leduc's controversial El Cobrador: In God We Trust.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but not enhanced for widescreen TV's this film looks rather disappointing. In what appears to be a PAL-sourced print with noticeable "ghosting" issues the color scheme is unstable, there is a bit of flickering, and contrast for the most part gravitates around the "average" mark. The lack of anamorphic treatment further disappoints and I wonder why such a remarkably strong film was given such an insulting treatment. In fact, I must state that Today and Tomorrow is far off what I have seen in previous installments from the Global Lens Series. The print isn't what this film should be distributed with and unless you are using a regular tube to view your DVDs I must strongly recommend that you look overseas for a proper edition of it.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a basic Spanish 2.0 track and fixed English subtitles the audio treatment is just about on par with the video treatment. Which equates disappointment! Even though dialog is mostly easy to follow the quality of the mix provided isn't very impressive (during moments of silence there is some mild hissing which I find unnatural). Given the fact that overseas releases of this film offer more elaborate sound options I am quite disappointed by the basic treatment the R1 distrib has provided.
Aside from the mandatory for the Global Lens Series Discussion Guide what we have here is a short interview with the director of the film which was conducted in New York City in 2005. In it Mr. Chomski discusses how the film was made possible as well as the economic crisis that swept Argentina a few years ago and the impact it had on ordinary people. Given the context of the film this interview comes highly recommended as it sheds plenty of light on what really took place in the director's home country.
A remarkable Argentinean film that made plenty of noise in Europe is given a snubbing R1 treatment forcing me to recommend that you look elsewhere for a deserving DVD version of it. I am very impressed by Alejandro Chomski and his visual style and the young woman playing Paula is no doubt one of the most promising actresses to come out of Argentina in recent years. What a shame that yet another great installment from the Global Lens Series has been butchered.