Fantasia 2019 Review: A Relationship Disintegrates Over And Over In THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WKND

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Fantasia 2019 Review: A Relationship Disintegrates Over And Over In THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WKND

It's been over a week since I first saw Jon Mikel Caballero's fantastical relationship drama, The Incredible Shrinking Wknd at Fantasia and I just cannot shake it. An incredible fantasy film that blends elements of Groundhog Day and Timecrimes into a micro level investigation of a love affair gone south that will find an empathetic audience absolutely riveted by its profound simplicity.

A group of six friends, three couples, head out into the wilderness near an old munitions factory for a relaxing weekend when something strange happens. Alba (Iria del Río) and her boyfriend of several years, Pablo (Adam Quintero), seem to be having a fine time until a relatively sudden argument breaks out regarding their differing outlooks on life and Pablo breaks up with her. Shattered by this left field proclamation that it's over, Alba stumbles through the rest of the outing in a daze.

As the group prepares to leave the next day, she sits in the car as witty banter bounces around between the seats until all of the sudden everyone freezes and she wakes up in what seems like an exact repeat of the previous day's events. Thinking that everyone is trying to play a trick on her, she questions them, but when they respond as though she's crazy she realizes what's really going on. Alba is stuck in a loop, forced to relive this painful weekend over and over, ad infinitum, at least that's what she thinks in the beginning.

After a few painful iterations she realizes that, as the tagline states, it's not a time loop, it's a countdown, with each successive loop shortening by an hour. Maybe she can fix it by fixing her relationship with Pablo, maybe, like Groundhog Day, it's only a loop because she's isn't doing it right. Or maybe, she'll just be stuck in this infinitely compressing window of pain forever. There's only one thing to do, try to make it right.

I would wager that most adults have had some kind of relationship, either romantic or platonic, that ended in a way that blindsided one party or the other. In many cases, we attempt to rationalize the loss, but there is often an unavoidable to pick at the scab left by such injuries and replay the events over and over again in our heads, wondering what we could've done differently to avoid such an outcome. In The Incredible Shrinking Wknd, Alba is given the opportunity to act on this hypothetical urge in a way that most people would likely jump on, and it damn near kills her.

Caballero's film is a remarkable story of the nightmare of wish fulfillment and denial of loss. Alba attempts with all her might to correct the damage she feels as though she's created in order to prevent a seemingly inevitable calamity. The structure of Alba's ever-collapsing loops seems to mimic the kind of ever-shrinking tolerance of those who've been fucked over in relationships, ie. fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you. She attempts to atone for sins she didn't even know she'd committed until her own personal apocalypse smacked her in the face, but to no avail.

It's a brilliant dramatization of the trauma of breakups, especially those that take us by surprise. By allowing Alba to replay the events over and over, both we and she are able to gain the insights necessary to understanding the reason for her condition. With the added pressure of the condensing timeline, we understand that with each failed attempt to fix her mistakes, she is running out of time and opportunity - an effect and idea beautifully and cleverly visualized in the film through the use of an effect that doesn't really make itself clear until nearly halfway through.

The fact that The Incredible Shrinking Wknd has stuck with me so vividly long after the screening ended is solid evidence that it is a work of art well worth your time. A beautifully tragic view of a relationship disintegrating captured in minute detail from every possible angle thanks to Caballero's ingenious writing and Iria del Río's amazing performance of a woman desperate to correct mistakes she wasn't even aware she'd made. As of right now, this film finds a spot in my top ten of 2019 as one of the most compelling and affecting works of the year.

El increble finde menguante

Director(s)
  • Jon Mikel Caballero
Writer(s)
  • Jon Mikel Caballero
Cast
  • Iria del Río
  • Adam Quintero
  • Nadia de Santiago
  • Adrián Expósito
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Jon Mikel CaballeroIria del RíoAdam QuinteroNadia de SantiagoAdrián ExpósitoDrama

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