The Future Perfect
Director Nele Wohlatz
Editor Ana Godoy
Screenplay Nele Wohlatz
With Zhang Xiaobin, Saroj Kumar Malik, Jiang Mian, Wang Dong Xi, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart
Cinematography Roman Kasseroller, Agustina San Martín
This cute Bressonian comedy revels in the challenge – and possibilities – of language from the immigrant perspective. Fresh off the plane from China, 18-year-old Xiaobin begins a new, uncertain life in Buenos Aires: unable to communicate beyond simple phrasebook expressions, she nonetheless sets out to overcome such everyday obstacles as finding a job and ordering a meal in a restaurant. Amusing as these first encounters are, Xiaobin’s straightforward and forward-thinking approach to culture shock yields pleasantly surprising results, and also speaks volumes of the stoic charm which typifies first-time actor Zhang Xiaobin’s performance, itself a fascinating measure of the relationship between language, speech and acting.
In Español classes, role-playing exercises present Xiaobin with an opportunity to reinvent herself in the Argentine world, against the grain of Chinese tradition. Will her social and romantic prospects improve along with her stilted Spanish? Having her arrive at the titular future perfect tense through these lessons, director Nele Wohlatz cleverly expands the film’s trim visual language to accommodate Xiaobin’s linguistic progress and dreams of lives soon to be lived. A smart, pin-sharp gem.— Tim Wong