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Set in a small town in Argentina's Patagonian outback, Glue relies on the improv of its three leads, Nahuel Perez Biscayart (Lucas), Ines Efron (Andrea), and Nahuel Viale (Nacho), to flesh out Dos Sontos's 17-page shooting script. These young professionals do such a phenomenal job it's no surprise to learn that the three already knew each other from improv classes. Given only loose direction by Dos Santos on what purpose a scene serves in the film, the actors created their own dialogue. As such, their conversations typically have the feel of idle chatter, rather than scripted lines intended to make particular points. This is both good and bad: good, in that it creates an authenticity that most youth-oriented films lack; bad, in that the story is lackadaisically and unevenly developed.
Glue is a lyrical coming-of-age story about three discontented small-town youth. Lucas, Nacho, and Andrea experiment in sexual play together in a manner that moves Lucas and Nacho along an ambivalently bisexual course, with the other major plot elements being Lucas's dysfunctional home life, and Lucas and Nacho dabbling in huffing glue (hence the most literal, though not necessarily only, meaning of the title).
Glue mostly works. Its improvisational acting is complimented by a striking cinematic style. While most scenes are captured using handheld DV and radio mics, moments of character introspection are played on analog tape recordings over Super 8 footage. Glue also features a great soundtrack which includes songs from the Violent Femmes, to whom Dos Santos dedicates the film, as well as Kimya Dawson and Adam Green, Stereo Total, and a number of good Latin American indie performers, that resonate with Lucas's preoccupation with music and self-selected misfit status. All the visual and audio quirks synergistically work to encourage viewers to adopt Lucas's subjective perspective as their own. Viewers that steadfastly hold to an objective viewpoint will be put off by much of the film's style.
Glue is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and the image has been anamorphically enhanced. The transfer of the Super 8 and DV source material to 35mm for theatrical presentation, and from 35mm to DVD was well done. The deep color saturation of the Super 8 is preserved, and the DV material looks true to form.
After doing such a good job with the image, it is unfortunate and surprising that Picture This! bungled the removable English subtitles on the main feature by having them display just below the middle of the image, rather than near the bottom. The consistency of this error (choice?) was confirmed on multiple players. These poorly placed subtitles detract from the viewing experience, but will not be a problem for viewers who choose not to display the subtitles.
The main feature offers Glue's Spanish audio track in 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital. Both mixes do a good job with the source dialogue recordings, with the 5.1 providing a superior presentation for the soundtrack.
The extras include an interview with the director who in masterful English describes how the film was made using the skeletal shooting script; deleted scenes which don't alter or add anything meaningful; and, trailers for other features. The non-removable subtitles are correctly placed on the non-anamorphic deleted scenes.
Alexis Dos Santos's freshman feature film, Glue, is a fine small coming-of-age story told through the subjective lens of youth. Not a lot happens, and there is not much drama, or conclusion, but neither is there often in real life. Glue will be frustrating for viewers that fail to embrace its subjective style, but it is recommended for fans of lyrical indie films.