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Original title
Running time
87 min.
Uruguay Uruguay
Federico Veiroj
Bárbara Álvarez
, , , , , , , ,
Co-production Uruguay-Spain-Argentina; Control Z / Avalon Productions / Rizoma Films
Drama | Teen/coming-of-age
Synopsis / Plot
Thirteen-year-old Rafael Bregman (Alejandro Tocar) is going through hard times: his bad skin, divorcing parents and difficulty talking to girls are making growing up feel impossible. He and his well-off family are part of the close-knit and at times suffocating Jewish community in Montevideo. Filmmaker Federico Veiroj uses this enclosed environment to shape a realistic portrayal of the adolescent world in Acné, his debut feature. Unlike most protagonists in teen comedies, Rafael has no trouble finding sex; in fact, he and his young friends already frequent the local brothel. But what Rafael desires most in the world money cannot buy – he wants romance and, finally to kiss a girl.

This tender, original film transmits the director's feelings of nostalgia for a long-gone age with honesty and sincerity. Revisiting the Rafael Bregman character from As Follows,Veiroj's successful 2004 short film – in which Rafael is taken first to a brothel and then for ice cream after his Bar Mitzvah – Acné further evokes the confusions that arise while on the threshold of manhood.

Tocar's believable, deadpan performance rivals Heather Matarazzo's turn in Welcome to the Dollhouse. His reactions to his parents' divorce, his obsession with his blonde classmate Nicole and his embarrassment about the pimples that just won't go away are so nuanced that we are delighted even as we cringe with recognition. The routines Rafael is forced to endure – boredom at school, visits to the dermatologist and family dinners – create an achingly real representation of daily life at thirteen.

Beautifully constructed, this accomplished first feature summons many long-forgotten sentiments to the screen. There are laugh-out-loud moments in Acné that will bring back those teenage years of so much confusion, and also scenes of such vulnerability that adolescence and all its insecurities may just come flooding back. (From
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