Uruguayan films tend to be slow burners. The action —what little there is of it— unfolds slowly. The lives depicted are monotonous or hard. There is little place for glamour.
A dry tragicomedy, Whisky revolves around the unspoken relationships between estranged brothers German and Jacobo, and Martha, an employee at Jacobo’s decrepit sock factory. The gentle climax of the film take places in the mythical Hotel Argentino in Piriapolis. Probably one of Uruguay’s most well-known films abroad. Available on Netflix and Amazon.
Mal día para pescar (Bad Day To Go Fishing) (2009)
A washed-up prize-fighter faces his last bout in a back-water town where his only champion in his irrepressible manager. Gorgeously filmed with lots of drama. Trailer with English subtitles
El Cuarto de Leo (Leo’s Room) (2009)
The first Uruguayan film to deal with the issue of coming out. Given Uruguay’s progressive gay rights legislation, it is surprising that it hadn’t been tackled earlier. On Amazon
The documentary-makers investigate five Uruguayan hits from 1955 to 1985, including Break it All (sic!), by Uruguay’s answer to the Beatles, and a protest song recorded in defiance of the 1970s dictatorship. I adore this film! This is the kind of investigative work that rarely takes place in a country where limited resources mean that social history is rarely documented. You’ll notice the younger generations have never heard of the earlier hits. On YouTube.
After a school-yard fight, Anina, a 10 year old girl, is given the “world’s weirdest punishment” – she has to hold onto a wax-sealed black envelope for a week without opening it. What happens if she can’t stand the suspense? An animated children’s film – for grown-ups too. Available on Amazon.
If you’re wondering, the public primary school uniform consists of white dustcoats and big blue pussy-cat bows, just like the characters wear.
Many of Uruguay’s films have been translated into English by a Canadian friend of mine and the subtitles are usually excellent.
Getting hold of Uruguayan movies
If you can’t find these films online, once you get to Montevideo, I recommend heading to the gift shop in the Solis Theatre where they have a great selection of Uruguayan films.
TEN Uruguayan films you must see?
Get the Guru’s recommendations for ten films you should check out as part of the fun planning your trip to Uruguay in The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo on Amazon. This is our updated list from 2019.
[This article was first published on September 7 2015 and last updated at the date above]
A new film is just out called Los Modernos. The story depicts a present day Uruguay of 30-somethings involved in the media and arts and is entertaining with a dramatic twist in the tale. But what I especially love is that it shows Montevideo in all its glory and in black and white! It’s like watching Woody Allen cast his loving eye over Paris or New York. Los Modernos does the same to Montevideo. Beautiful! Here’s a criticism by a critic I love (in Spanish) http://ladiaria.com.uy/articulo/2016/10/los-modernos-una-pelicula-de-mauro-sarser-y-marcela-matta/
Ey! Yo creo que el mejor film uruguayo de todos los tiempos es 25 watts, del 2001. Historias de adolescentes totalmente desmotivados y perdidos en un contexto espantoso: la crisis de 2001 y 2002 después de una década horrible, sin sueños, sin ganas, sin nada. A pesar de ello es muy graciosa, es tragicómica.
Gigante y Norberto apenas tarde
Me estoy olvidando de otra dos muy buenas: El Baño del Papa y Matar a todos.
There are lots of things to buy in Mercado Libre, included films, cd’s, vinyl records…http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.uy/MLU-429145102-dvd-whisky-pazos-pascual-bolani-_JM
And of course in the Tristán Narvaja Fair in sunday mornings…
LEO’S ROOM (EL CUARTO DE LEO)
Dir. Enrique Buchichio
Uruguay, 2009, 95 minutes
Spanish, with subtitles in English
Shaken by a recent breakup, a troubled but handsome young man dreams of the future and cautiously explores his sexuality with the encouragement of an old friend and a sympathetic therapist. Special Jury Award, Torino GLBT Film Festival; Official Selection of the San Sebastián Film Festival (New Directors), NewFest and Miami International Film Festival.
“A sensitive, engaging and emotive portrayal of a young man coming to terms with his sexuality. Leo’s Room is a triumph of a movie….The understated performances, subtle direction and strong story make Leo’s Room a must-see.” -Entertainment Focus
“Filled with wonderful little touches and character beats….Leo’s Room feels utterly fresh.” -Miami Herald
LEO’S ROOM toured as part of the Global Lens 2010 film series and appeared in venues, festivals and theatrical locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the New York Latino International Film Festival, the Dallas International Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival. The DVD release of LEO’S ROOM coincides with its release on television cable network HBO Latino this month. The film is also featured on Virgin America airlines, along with other Global Lens films. DVDs will be available for purchase through the Global Film Initiative website on November 8th:
I have not seen any of these films. Just where would I find them in Atlántida? Any ideas? Of the Uruguayan films I have seen, I like El último tren: Corazón de fuego.
Hey Syd, do DVD stores still exist in Atlantida? If they do I would certainly expect them to carry at least some of these films.
I have not heard of “El Ultimo Tren” though I see it is a comedy from 2002 and an Argentine-Uruguay coproduction. Thanks for the tip!