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The Shape of Things to Come (Tiempos Futuros)

A man and his son are hell-bent on bringing rain to the dry and dusty capital of Peru, in this contemporary sci-fi drama - from the Tallinn Black Nights Film Fest


Lima is one of the driest places on Earth. Most citizens have never seen any significant precipitation in their lives. “The clouds are not dense enough, so the air never reaches cooling point”, explains Luis – a seemingly self-taught inventor and electrician. The city is also permanently covered with dust. The streets are sombre and misty (resembling fog), and even the beach is lugubrious and sorrowful. Luis bemoans: “It’s grey today”. His 12-year-old son Teo promptly retorts: “it’s grey every day”.

Life indoors is just gloomy as outdoors, surrounding by cold metal and scarce life. Father and son live and work in a building resembling a factory or a mad scientist’s lair. There is heavy machinery all around, constantly whirring and humming. Luis is on a quest to create rain for his people. Lima needs “an external energy source” in order to achieve thermal equilibrium, he explains. However their machinery is precarious. Will they successfully challenge almighty mother nature with abundant resolve and very few tools to hand? Father and son keep some frogs in a water tank as a symbol of their wet ambitions. In reality, Luis and Teo are as trapped and impotent as their amphibian pets.

This little contemporary science-fiction drama about machine-versus-nature is at times hypnotic, bursting with dark lyricism. At times it seems to evoke Tarkosvky, with numerous windows, dirty glass and slow, reflective panning shots. There is a scene in which a sullen Teo sits at the table with his hand inside a cup that seems to pay tribute to the last sequence of Stalker (1979).

This dystopian, dull-coloured urbis is hardly a desirable place to live. However it is indeed fascinating. You will want to visit Lima, a far-away place seemingly detached from this planet. And you’d better hurry. Do it before Luis and Teo achieve their objective and wash the Peruvian capital with rain. Which beggars the question: will water cleanse or will it deface the mysterious city?

The Shape of Things to Come has just premiered at the 25th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, as part of the Rebels with a Cause section. A nice companion piece to the equally sombre and dusty Lima Screams (Dana Bonilla and Ximena Valdivia, 2018).

By Victor Fraga - 23-11-2021

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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