Gogo’s review published on Letterboxd:
Every person eventually reaches a certain age where he or she finds it increasingly difficult to fall in love. The age is different for each person and factors that affect the age are extroversion v. introversion, work environment, and personal outlook on the nature of the world. It seems that our main protagonists Martin and Mariana have reached this age. They each know the stings of failed affairs and even experience new flames over the course of the film. I recently saw a quote by Emery Allen that directly pertains to both of them. "Not everything is supposed to be become something beautiful and long-lasting. Sometimes people come into your life to show you what is right and what is wrong, to show who you can be, to teach you to love yourself, to make you feel better for a little while, or to just be someone to walk with at night and spill your life to. Not everyone is going to stay forever, and we still have to keep on going and thank them for what they've given us." This beautiful, brilliant, simple thought is easy enough to comprehend but living it with confidence is much harder and even sadder too.
Martin and Mariana see a lot of paradoxes in their world. Much of how they interpret their city, Buenos Aires, is revealed in narration. I love narration. A lot of people despise it because of how it "lazily" gives away information but I think more times than not it is wonderful to immediately get inside the head of the character and become one with his stream of consciousness. Mariana's obsession with "Where's Wally?" delves into how hopeless finding love seems to her. She realizes that the more one looks to find Wally or love the more impossible the feat becomes. Martin laments the contrasts in his city such as the ugly cement buildings and the beautiful ones of French design. Everywhere he looks he sees complications and things that should not be. He appears to be interested in the world but fearful of living. The traits make both characters a bit annoying, oddly relatable, and instantly lovable.
Allen has another insightful quote that is almost too perfect to use in reviewing Sidewalls. "Do you think the universe fights for our souls to be together? Some things are too strange and strong to be coincidences." This is another huge concept of the film. For some reason the audience wants them to get together. Maybe it is because they are both lonely and nice people. I don't know. Many parallels between the two are shown and I think they are mostly responsible for the star-crossed lovers effect.
It did not take long to realize that Sidewalls would have an impact on me. I've distinguished my favorite sort of genre and duly noted that it falls within it! Fallen Angels, Yi Yi a One and a Two, Himizu, All About Lily Chou-Chou, and I am Keiko are peers in said category. I like to call it "Emotional Hyperrealism." These films remain so close to truth that I get wrapped up in them and quickly forget that there are actors, a director, a costumer, a set designer etc. involved because of how real and natural it seems. The only stipulation with the term "hyperrealism" is that it does not take into consideration the intense emotions hurled at the audience with unforgiving speed. Although my top favorites are not all from this genre, I appreciate it the most and continually seek out films that belong to it. Maybe even one day I'll be able to write or make one that fits as well. Mariana and Martin carry this film with their quirks and dreams wrapped under many layers of longing and isolation.
One of the best parts of the film is that there is nothing corny about the representations of love and loneliness. There is never a line that goes "I could look at you for ten bajillion million years. Wow you're just so beautiful my eyes are gonna drip out of their sockets. And you don't even know it!!" I hate that so much. Shut your ig'nt mouth, fictional piece of garbage from my mind! Girls don't need heroes or saving of any kind. The ones that do, need to grow and develop more on their own before they can be emotionally ready for any sort of relationship before one of you rips the heart from the other. The girls that you should be seeking out are the ones that would reply "Oh trust me honey, you bet your ass I know it." Martin and Mariana are lonely but they're not so unstable that they can't recognize their self worth. Martin is desperate but he knows it and accepts it without self-hatred seeping in. Mariana is horribly sad and cries but she is not afraid of turning someone down to keep her personal interests foremost in mind. And I love them for that.
I also love them because they understand that the age of instant communication through the internet is more of a curse than a blessing when it comes to dating. I am just a small child with no online dating experience so I cannot confirm nor deny their claims but they do make sense. It is quite amazing that technology designed for the sole purpose of bringing people closer together makes them more separate than ever before. One would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting subtitle than "Buenos Aires in Times of Virtual Love." The film circles around this concept yet somehow never fully closes in. It reveals much but does not want to totally terminate the opportunity to debate. I feel like so much more could be said about Sidewalls but I don't know how to phrase it. I spent an entire day musing over how to write this review in the least stupid way and I'm not sure exactly how successful I am. Regardless, I leave the floor open for more discourse about this near masterpiece and I'm sure another watch is waiting for me in the not-so-distant future.