“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances…” Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy As You Like It bequeathed us this well-known adage, which, in today’s increasingly dramatic times, feels more prescient and apt than ever. Keyed to a breathless tempo and executed with exquisite flair, the films of Matías Piñeiro (b. Buenos Aires, 1982) revolve around this Bardian premise.
In just over a decade, the young Argentine auteur has established himself as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary world cinema with six inventive films that draw freely on theatre and literature in order to explore the power of desire and of language. While Piñeiro’s playful and mysterious films have emerged from the perennially surging Argentine New Wave, their influence can more prominently be traced to French New Wave masters Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette — the former’s philosophical and erotic tales and the latter’s heady, puzzle-piece roundelays — and a clutch of ex-pat filmmakers living and working in Paris, notably Eduardo de Gregorio and Hugo Santiago.
Piñeiro’s films all derive from classic literary texts. Yet these are far from standard adaptations: rather, the filmmaker has engaged in a signature form of translation (in his words, the films are “variations,” “extensions,” “profanations,” “contaminations” or “desecrations” of the original texts), suffused with levity and luminosity, to create thrilling contemporary updates of his sources. Whether riffing off texts by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (the nineteenth-century humanist intellectual and former president of Argentina) or, especially, Shakespeare’s comedies, in his ongoing, self-titled Shakespeariadas series –partially inspired by French poet Gérard de Nerval’s Les Filles du feu (1854), a collection of short stories and sonnets each named for its eponymous heroine — Piñeiro has developed a style that fuses the language of theatre and literature with that of cinema, orchestrating sinuous worlds in which love, art, music, and performance seamlessly coalesce.
Working with the same troupe of largely female actors (including María Villar, Agustina Muñoz, Romina Paula) and cinematographer Fernando Lockett, whose fluid, virtuosic camerawork keeps apace of the films’ loquaciousness, relays and ricochets, Piñeiro has created a highly collaborative atmosphere for his independent productions. In the Shakespeariadas films — Rosalinda, Viola, La Princesa de Francia, and Hermia & Helena, which respectively redeploy As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Love’s Labours Lost and A Midsummer Night’s Dream — the flirtatious soliloquies and dizzying disquisitions on love are placed within circular and nested narratives, accentuated by the rhythmic patterns of the Shakespearean text, which beguilingly blur reality and fantasy. As roles collapse, conflate or are exchanged, clever, rapid-fire wordplay and moments of sheer cinematic bliss emerge, recalling some of the effortless elegance of Ernst Lubitsch and Max Ophüls, as well as the more recent self-reflexive, cubist constructions of Hong Sang-soo.
Pour l’amour du jeu traces the evolution of Piñeiro’s prolific career to date, revealing a sensual, original body of work that revels in artistic creation, seduction, and formal experimentation — an oeuvre that is ripe for discovery in France.
Text by Andréa Picard, published on the occasion of the programming around Matías Piñeiro. Pour l’amour du jeu, at Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2017