The opening scene of the 2011 Argentine film Medianeras (“Sidewalls”) is an homage to the unique architectural structures of the sprawling city of Buenos Aires. Beautifully filmed, Medianeras offers viewers a picture of what life looks like from the inside of one of the thousands of apartments that tower over the city. Have you ever walked down Avenida Santa Fe and wondered who lives in the buildings lining the street? The movie centers on two unhappy individuals who live parallel lives in neighboring apartment buildings but have never met.
The set-up reminded me a bit of Sleepless in Seattle, in that the two main characters never meet face to face until the end of the movie, but are obviously compatible from the very beginning. And, as in Sleepless, the city and local lifestyle play a role in the movie.
The plot also features a prominent porteño stereotype: obsession with the psyche, phobias, and anxieties. In Buenos Aires, there’s a joke that when four friends meet for coffee, there are actually eight people participating in the conversation: the four friends, and each person’s psychoanalyst. The main characters in Medianeras and those around them all suffer from their own mental issues.
As a traveler in Buenos Aires, I enjoyed seeing images both of the city’s most famous and most average buildings and streets, journeying into the psyches of a few fictional porteños, and getting to practice my Castellano listening skills in the meantime!
As of February 2015, Medianeras is available to stream on Netflix.com