Review of “Timecode” by Juanjo Giménez

A veteran of the short format, Juanjo Giménez most certainly does not consider it as a springboard for features and this very ethos can be palpable throughout his 15-min short “Timecode” that rightfully won the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Luna and Diego are parking lot security guards. Diego does the graveyard shift and Luna works by day. They only coincide for a mere fleeting seconds during the shift change but they end up having an unexpected connection after an “incident” forces Luna to examine the previous night’s security footage. She notices that Diego is behaving strangely – that is, he seems to be dancing in the empty parking lot. This is when the film shifts tonally as Luna then decides to show off her dancing skills as well and lets her night shift colleague know the “timecode” of her moves. They soon find themselves intertwined in a daily exchange of their respective moments of freedom while almost never actually saying a word to one another.

Surely, “Timecode” may seem like an exercise in caprice. This exchange of security camera footage through which two people start a relationship of sorts reminds us of a romantic comedy plot but it is definitely not one. The breeziness of “Timecode” is not a shortcoming and the subtle comedy on display here never feels forced because there is more to “Timecode” than playful indulgence. Juanjo Giménez starts his film with a presentation of the banal, the day-to-day. In fact, Luna dresses in her uniform and is expected to do her job. However, with the seeing of the dancing through the security cameras, this ordinariness is broken. Often associated with surveillance and oppression, the cameras in “Timecode” give us precisely the opposite of that. They give us a glimpse of what a free world beyond the strict limitations of our professions can look like. Moreover, Giménez builds his short very meticulously. At first, Diego makes the odd move here and there, which he then increases whenever it is possible. But, as Diego and Luna incite and cheer each other, these moves become gutsier, freer, more powerful and energetic. “Timecode” transcends the cadence and movement of the dance itself (and leads and real-life dancers Lali Ayguadé and Nicolas Ricchini are both obviously consummate performers) as well as the capability to do something beyond the code of what is expected in our everyday life. This magnetic combination of reality and conceptuality fabricates something beyond and out of the ordinary, something extraordinary… Also, the film’s final dialogue is a splendidly humorous gag.

With a crisp lensing courtesy of Pere Pueyo, “Timecode” amazes with its capacity to turn the ugliness of the garage – a habitual scenery of crimes, stalking and other shady business in Film –, into a place where dreams and hopes converge and from which art is the only way out. Set in this environment and smartly dated through the screens of security cameras (starting on 14 May 2016), Juanjo Giménez tells a story of discoveries and secrets, proving that the dance film has always been a popular genre within the short film universe in spite of its niche characteristic and specificity. Here, Juanjo Giménez mixes genres, harmonizing a dance film with a more traditional narrative that manages to confound and captivate, hiding in its apparent conventionality something magical and tender, hopeful and artistic.

“Timecode” is a unique piece of work.


Production: Nadir Films, ECIR (Spain 2016)

Producers: Juanjo Giménez Peña, Arturo Méndiz, Daniel Villanueva

Director: Juanjo Giménez Peña

Screenplay: Juanjo Giménez Peña

Cinematography: Pere Pueyo

Music: Iván Céster

Editing: Silvia Cervantes

Cast: Lali Ayguadé, Pep Domenech, Vicente Gil, Nicolas Ricchini

Color – 15 min.

Premiere: 21/05/2016 (Cannes Film Festival)

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