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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Just Average: 36.36%
Pretty Crappy: 9.09%

1 review, 16 user ratings

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Juan in a Million
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by Jay Seaver

"Everyone's Lost in Chile."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2013 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FEST: "Alone in the world" movies offer the independent science fiction filmmaker a fair amount of bang for their buck - you can get by with a very small cast, some unusually still establishing shots taken at the right time, and the sense of unease that comes from empty space where there should be crowds. You've got to do a bit more in the way of world-building, though, something "Juan in a Million" puts off until it may be too late.

As the movie starts, Juan Pablo (Sergio Allard) is recording a video message as part of his application for graduate school at Harvard. He sends it off and hits the sack for a quick nap before going to a friend's party, but when he finally awakens and goes, the music is playing but the place is empty. Upon further examination, the entire city of Algarrobo, Chile is empty, and while the utilities are running, there's only static on the TV and radio and nothing new posted on the internet. Juan is alone, with only a Maradona bobblehead and strange dreams of his ex-girlfriend Camila (Florencia Astrorga) for company.

There are a number of directions that one can go with this - there's a mystery to solve, a struggle for a life-long city dweller to survive, and the possibility of going insane without genuine human contact - and ideally, the filmmaker would be pursuing all three at once. What makes this movie frustrating for a considerable chunk of its length is that Allard (who, in addition to playing Juan, also writes, directs, produces, and edits) doesn't seriously pursue any of these avenues until fairly late in the game - and even then, his on-screen alter ego seems to fall into it.

Certainly, some compromises have to be made to accommodate the resources of a small group of filmmakers; it's probably not feasible for Allard and company to show packs of wolves starting to claim the city as their own, for example. But certain parts of these issues can reinforce each other - the curious resilience of the infrastructure without human maintenance can point to the mystery of where everyone is, for example. Juan's methodical examination of the city can have results, rather than just seeming to kill time until the surprise midway through. More time can be spent on Juan going nuts rather than just seeming bored on an extended weekend when nobody is around.

Heck, at one point in the second half of the movie, Allard runs through a sort of alternate version of what's already happened, and that five- or ten-minute segment is more intriguing and emotional than all of the total of what has come before. It's bits like that which really display his potential and that of the movie; Allard does the strange, discombobulating moment well. He and cinematographer Ignacio Walker (with help from the folks in charge of music and sound) also do a decent job of making spaces that should be comfortable to anyone from an urban environment seem off-kilter. And while he may not be the greatest actor, he seems capable enough in both Spanish and English, and has an affable enough screen presence; there's worse people to be stuck with.

It's perhaps telling that a pair of airline tickets that show up in the middle of the movie have "Oceanic Air" printed on them; like "Lost", this movie does a fair amount of spinning its wheels and setting up a mystery that is too far out to be satisfactorily explained. Allard and his fellow filmmakers perhaps get more out of limited resources than people making a similar film a generation ago would have, but it's hard to shake the feeling that they should have managed more.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24777&reviewer=371
originally posted: 02/16/13 01:01:56
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2013 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/17/17 Lori Waste of time! Horrible, no matter how long you hea get, it NEVER gets any better!! 1 stars
1/28/17 Diego Well, after 25 minutes and seen only Juan walking around couldn't take it any longer! 1 stars
11/27/16 Donavan After watching it, I had to Google what it was about. That pretty much sums it up. 2 stars
11/01/16 Denise Very smart, captivating movie..yes,there are holes in the plot, but it folds out 4 stars
10/23/16 Lisa I was into the movie, but towards the end maybe an answer. Then nothing. 4 stars
10/15/16 donny I want my hour and a half back. Very annoying. 1 stars
8/25/16 Bill wasted 1 1/2 of my life 1 stars
8/23/16 Sparky176 absolutely sucked. No story, no end. no sense 1 stars
8/21/16 Allan This movie sucked. What was the point?? 1 stars
3/22/16 Lisa rivera I did not get the movie at all. What is the purpose there was no plot neither a resolution 1 stars
2/25/16 Arlene PLEASE, someone, explain the conclusion of the movie 3 stars
2/02/16 Ghostvet Horrible. Boring. Nothing happened until almost the end, then more nothing, then end credit 1 stars
1/14/16 Linda Austin Has Nothing. 2 stars
12/15/15 Tina Scoley Hmm, Jet Black look-a-like, not very plausible 3 stars
11/20/15 CL Very oddly done, not much plot 1 stars
11/14/15 brian Huh? 1 stars
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