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by Chantel Elassaad
October 11th, 2011

On weekends my motto is a quote from my Canadian hometown hero Linda Evangelista: “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day”. Or in this case, a film screening that I don’t have to pay for.

Linda Evangelista Pillow

Because I am too lazy to walk to a further subway, I’m at the mercy of the G train (aka Ghost Train) and it’s notoriously sketchy weekend schedule, so on Saturday I had to wake up way extra early than usual and take a long and unforgiving train ride(s) to the Lincoln Center.

Needless to say, I was feeling tired while watching Santiago Mitre’s strong debut feature, The Student (El Estudiante), a fast paced, fast spoken coming of age political thriller. The Student follows the story of Roque, a new student at a public university in Buenos Aires and his initiation into politics.

At first Roque is cool with typical student lifestyle, getting it on with his “friend with benefits” Paula, late night parties, drinking too much, snorting drugs, smoking.  Normal universal-university student behavior. Until he falls for Valeria, an assistant professor who has been highly involved with politics since her teenage years, AND she’s also involved in a long term relationship with a much older former politician and highly regarded University Faculty member, Alberto Acevedo.

The political group that Valeria is involved with is all about getting students and professors to ban together and change the school to a more current and relevant system. Roque, becoming more intrigued by Valeria, accompanies her to a staff meeting – where they discuss a former member who has turned on the group for his own benefit. (TIME OUT: so this other professor who turned on the group, his character was named “Angel”, I think and oh man, this guy was so incredibly hot!  I tried to IMDB and Google him for you all, but I can’t find anything. This guy’s scenes were by far, my favorite scenes in the film.  There is one scene where he and a student get into a heated discussion and tensions are high! WHOA!  Dear director Santiago Mitre. Please cast that guy again in your next movie and then again in everything else. Thanks!)

Anyways, at the meeting Roque speaks his strong opinions towards my backstabbing boyfriend Angel, openly and with confidence. He catches the attention of faculty elder Alberto, who starts giving Roque responsibilities within the group. The tasks start small but within a few months time, Roque stops attending class and becomes Alberto’s full time right hand man, as Alberto becomes a top candidate for the University Dean.

However, like most political journeys, it’s full of back stabbing, clever lies, and the harsh reality that most of the time in politics, everyone is out for themselves. Overall, I really enjoyed the film, and I could easily see it fitting into Rooftop Film’s programming for next summer.

I apologize that this review is pretty lazy (as stated below, I was really tired, not enough coffee was consumed) but Eric Kohn at Indiewire wrote a great review here, where he states that Mitre is the South American Aaron Sorkin.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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