Alba, her boyfriend, and their friends head out to a country cabin of her childhood to party and hang out, as the weekend advances, Alba finds herself in a shrinking time loop where she must figure out why this is happening and how to stop it.
Written and directed by Jon Mikel Caballero, whose feature film debit this is, The Incredible Shrinking Wknd is a fascinating exercise in storytelling that uses visual elements to enhance the feelings for the viewers. The film at its base is character-driven and revolves entirely around Alba. The characters are mostly quickly established and the viewer gets to know them as the film advances, giving a changing impression of some of them as the story moves along. Alba, the main character, gets the majority of some of the screen time and her character arc is what really pulls the viewer in. Here she’s not just the person to whom this all happens, she’s someone stuck in a rut learning about herself and how her life affects others as she tries to change things so that she can move forward. The character is written in such a way that she comes off as truly human. Her emotions, reactions, and self-questioning are what make the film connect.
Another powerful connection is done through Iria del Rio’s performance as she takes the character of Alba and makes her a part of herself. Watching her performance, it comes off as natural and almost organic with subtle nuances that take Alba’s evolution to the next level. Her work here sells the entire film and she makes it look easy. Her emotional range shows a mastery on her part that just works perfectly. In supporting roles are Adam Quintero as Pablo and Nadia de Santiago as Sira who give performances that balance well with del Rio’s while giving her a great back and forth. The cast as a whole makes for a believable group of friends where some of the friendships are older and almost unbreakable and some of them are strained for one reason or another. The way they all connect, positively or less so, brings another sense of reality when the story takes its odd turns and requires a suspension of disbelief for everything to work. The cast brings the human element to the forefront and does so with a realism that helps ground the film on the overall.
Another aspect that helps keep the attention is the location. That countryside is beautiful and nothing is screaming at you visually. That is until the very interesting cinematography kicks in. The work by cinematographer Tania da Fonseca (as well as the editing by Miguel A Trudu) is something else here. Not only is the framing always on point, the changes to the image ratio are so subtle at first, they are almost impossible to notice. This leads to creating an effect of claustrophobia and an odd sense of urgency to what is happening within the borders of the screen. A very simple play with the images that brings a ton to the film and its mood, the visuals and their development throughout the film take it from a really good film to something that’s great on another level entirely. This is a case where a film’s visuals greatly elevate already high quality material, making it a must-see for film fans and those who want to see something new in terms of style and feeling.
The Incredible Shrinking Wknd is a film that succeeds due to its capacity to connect with the viewer by making them feel with the characters and by creating a visual environment that pulls them in further and further as the film advances. This is the kind of film that requires the viewer to pay attention to get fully engrossed into it, but once they are, it becomes a rewarding watch.
Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 11th to August 1st 2019