Wednesday, November 1, 2023

El cochecito (Marco Ferreri, 1960)


Marco Ferreri’s El cochecito lives up to its reputation, its perspective on the community of the differently-abled still seeming radically matter-of-fact and quasi-aspirational. A retired bureaucrat, Don Anselmo, visits an old friend who now gets around in a motorized wheelchair, and who gives him a ride on it when Anselmo can’t find a taxi; it leads to other get-togethers and contacts and diversions (presented in enjoyably garrulous, lived-in manner) and to Anselmo desiring such an item for himself, regardless that it’s beyond his means, and that he doesn’t actually need it. The desire becomes a near-fixation, and yet appears more rational than his family’s strident opposition to it (this aspect of the film aligns well with modern Uber-aligned notions of choice and autonomy), in particular as he actually wants to get out and experience people and places, an ambition seemingly beyond the scope of his relatives’ closeted thinking. Threatened with being committed to an asylum, Anselmo takes a desperate step to get what he wants, his awareness of his transgression made clear in a startling, long-held close-up, in which Ferreri temporarily seems to yield to the evocative powers of his lead actor, Jose Isbert. The final scene (in the full original version that is; the film was reportedly available for years only in bowdlerized form) allows him a final taste of freedom, and although it’s clear that a severe reckoning lies ahead, Anselmo’s final remark has a resigned lightness to it, suggesting that from his hemmed-in point of view, his liberation, however brief, was worth it at almost any logistical and moral price. The film allows occasional glimpses of the later more expansive Ferreri (for example, Anselmo enjoys an indulgent lunch that presages La Grande Bouffe), but on the whole occupies its own stylistic and tonal space within his oeuvre, no less enjoyably for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment