The Third One (Rodrigo Guerrero, 2014) 

A scene from Rodrigo Guerrero's  The Third One  {Photo; Courtesy of the Chicago International Film Festival}

A scene from Rodrigo Guerrero's The Third One {Photo; Courtesy of the Chicago International Film Festival}

The Third One screens on Wednesday, October 15, Saturday, October 18, and Monday, October 20. More information can be found at the Chicago International Film Festival's website here

Rodrigo Guerrero’s The Third One is a carefully constructed film, where every one of its few shots is littered with meaning. Yet, despite its short runtime, the film remains disappointingly thin in conception. In what’s looking like a zeitgeist moment in contemporary cinema, there’s a palpable concern regarding our usage of technology and the internet. The Third One opens with two particularly drawn out Skype sessions where a young college student named Fede (Carlos Echevarría) interacts with a gay couple. Their flirtations are mutual, prompting an invitation for dinner on behalf of the couple - Fede accepts.

At this point the film must make a stand as to where its action will go. The opening of the picture utilizes a technique that captures the actions of Fede desktop. He frequently switches between a Skype window and pornography at a moment’s notice. It’s an interesting and rarely deployed technique, with Guerrero stretching these scenes thin. The film thankfully reverts to a more traditional 4:3 ratio just as it exhausts this technique. From here, allows his camera to rest in carefully composed sequences, often capturing actions in long takes with characters sitting facing each other. The affect is inarguably effective, as the dinner sequence between Fede and the couple is riddled with the sort of anxieties and flirtations of a first date - a distinct cut is used as an indicator of power shift in the conversation and it’s a strong formal flourish from Guerrero.

But ultimately, the film’s material is too thin to really suggest anything more than what’s on screen. More problematic is that Guerrero utilizes the same stationary technique throughout the film, never being attuned to the emotional complexity of that developing between his actors. As passions escalate, Guerrero remains emotionally uninvolved with his camera, and that goes a long way in distancing our connection with Fede - a final sequence yearns for poignant self-discovery but ultimately registers as trite and inert. Still, Guerrero is formally disciplined, though a little aggression would go a long way.