The Movie Waffler First Look Review - THE WEASEL’S TALE | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - THE WEASEL’S TALE

The Weasel’s Tale review
An aging actress accepts an offer to sell her mansion, much to the annoyance of her housemates.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Juan José Campanella

Starring: Graciela Borges, Oscar Martínez, Luis Brandoni, Marcos Mundstock, Clara Lago, Nicolás Francella

The Weasel’s Tale poster

Getting older, becoming ‘old’, is defined by a slow and inevitable process of loss: looks, opportunities, health, friends, and eventually, inexorably, your very life itself; all falling down the back of time’s sofa piece by irretrievable piece, regardless of how tightly we attempt to hold on to what we have previously taken for granted.

‘There is no better lesson than pain and suffering’, the ancient tagline to one of Mara Ordaz’s (Graciela Borges) B-movies advises in Juan José Campanella’s The Weasel’s Tale. Once the toast of Hollywood, Mara is now in her winter years, surrounded in her dilapidated mansion with the yellowing artefacts of her glory years: old posters, moth-eaten props and fragile newspaper clippings. It’s not that the pictures got small either, more the inconvenient truth that time is bigger than us all. Perhaps this is why Mara squirrels herself away in the confined spaces of her down-at-heel pile, re-watching her old movies from when she was young and anything seemed possible, before the walls closed in.

The Weasel’s Tale review

At least Mara isn’t alone in her dotage. Her oppos include husband and ex co-star Pedro (Luis Brandoni), director Norberto (Oscar Martínez) and screenwriter Martín (Marcos Mundstock). And, suddenly one day, two hot twenty-somethings from the city, who apparently happen upon the mansion while lost in the Argentinian outskirts, and who thrill Mara by recognising her and buffing up her faded celebrity image. Flattery will get you everywhere, and before you can say the stars are ageless, these two chancers have all but convinced Mara to sell her insalubrious little grief hole, much to the chagrin of her housemates who resolve to retain the house at whatever cost.

What follows is an Argentinian take on the gentle but none more black comedies of Ealing Studios (The Weasel’s Tale is in fact based on the 1976 film - slightly spoilerific title if you speak Espanola - Los Muchachos de antes no Usaban Arsénico), but, with its sardonic pace and emphasis on character interaction, is more of a hang-out piece than the tight energy of, say, The Ladykillers.

The Weasel’s Tale review

The problem with The Weasel’s Tale is that hanging out with this lot, with their unspoken jealousies and simmering insecurities, and the manipulation at the hands of Bárbara (Clara Lago) and Francisco (Nicolás Francella), does get a bit wearing. They don’t even seem to get on with each other, so there is little reason for us to like them either!

The pacing is as indulgent, however, as the gorgeous set design and thick colours that make up the cinematography, constituting the gingerbread gothic of the mansion and setting the stage for the final act’s ruthless machinations, wherein the comedy is as sharp as the characters are unforgiving. Your attention my have wavered by then though, and that’s on Campanella’s liberal approach to sequencing.

The Weasel’s Tale review

Perhaps all is not lost in old age, though. The chancers from the city, with their limited aspirations towards wealth and status, give our gang something to kick back against, and a final chance to exercise their artistic skills of performance, staging and (mis)direction. Qualities which The Weasel’s Tale itself has in spades but, like the characters it so deftly portrays, takes almost too long to fully lean into them.

The Weasel's Tale is in US cinemas and virtual screenings from December 11th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

2020 movie reviews