Duck Season, Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke’s 2004 debut feature, is predicated on the notion that a day doesn’t have to be extraordinary to be interesting, that it doesn’t have to be exciting to be memorable.
It begins as just another day in the life with 14-year-olds Flama (Daniel Miranda) and Moko (Diego Cataño), who are left home alone on Sundays in Flama’s apartment while his mother works. They pass the time playing Halo and drinking cola. They are joined by their neighbor, the 16-year-old Rita (Danny Perea), who wants to borrow their oven. They order a pizza, and when it arrives a few seconds past the 30-minute guarantee they refuse to pay the delivery man, Ulises (Enrique Arreola). He settles in for a siege.
And that’s about it. It doesn’t sound like much, but the film isn’t dependent on the plot. The executive producer is Alfonso Cuarón, and like his Y Tu Mamá También it is concerned primarily with what goes on in the corners of the frame. That film was largely about the Mexico seen through the windows of the protagonists’ car. The pleasures in this one are the creative ways that the camera finds to explore every nook and cranny of the apartment and in its sounds–the steady drip of a leaky faucet that marks time, the fizz of a glass of soda, the perfect choices of music.
The film’s weakest moments are those in which it wanders away from its immediate setting, Ulises’ flashbacks to the pound where he used to work. They provide nothing that couldn’t be achieved with dialogue and they rob Ulises’ later fantasy sequence of some of its surprise and effectiveness.
For the most part, though, Duck Season is a creative, lively, lovely little film. Rita tells Moko, “memory has to be exercised too,” and that’s what this film is: an exercise in memory. It reminds us that our young lives were built of lazy Sundays with our friends, and it asks us to delve into our own pasts and remember.