Año uña (The Year of the Nail) is the feature directorial debut from Jonás Cuarón, following the coming-of-age of a 14-year-old boy, Diego (Diego Cataño) along with the story of an American university student, Molly (Eireann Harper) who travels to Mexico and lodges in Diego’s family home. The director spent a year collecting personal photographs of his family, specifically his little brother and girlfriend to craft the narrative for Año uña.
The film cost only £4000 to make and began with a collection of over 8000 photographs before becoming the 2000 images that make up the beautifully, intriguing film. Whilst it may at first seem a chore to sit through 2000 holiday photos, Año uña is an original experience in its tone, and of course in its format, the only other film I can think of that is made purely of still photographs is La Jetée (The Pier, France, 1962, dir. Chris Marker). Where the film differs greatly from La Jetée is in its style. It seems much more personal, possibly because of the relationship that the director already has to his subjects, but much more likely down to the narration. The story that Cuarón builds around the photographs is about unrequited love and longing, which is even more powerful because of its subtlety. The two characters are never seen obviously staring into each other’s eyes; the emphasis is based much more on the audience interpreting the relationship themselves through the link between the narration and the images.
Año uña is an incredible achievement in that it can easily hold the attention of an audience for its 80-minute duration purely through an absorbing narrative, which is held together by a beautiful series of photographs. I guess it does not differ from a traditional film in the sense that it is a relationship between sound and images, but it removes the excess, almost unneeded footage to leave a beautiful portrait of young love, leaving the time for an audience to reflect on each conversation, movement, look, landscape and event.
Review by LiveWire Critic, Jamie Allan (Mar ’08)