Translated as My Brothers Wife, the title of this film seemingly gives away most of the plot. But don't be fooled, this is not some melodramatic soap opera with obligatory love triangle. The film plays on pre-conceived notions and stereotypes to keep the audience guessing throughout - misled by their own misconceptions about family, relationships and human behaviour and it makes for an interesting journey. The use of the beautiful Schmitz house in the film is no exception. Modern buildings in film are routinely cast as homes to cold, controlling individuals and Peruvian Director Ricardo de Montreuil uses this fact to great effect, making us believe that the occupants will fit the mould.
The house, designed by Filipe Assadi & Francisca Pulido, located outside of Santiago, Chile is cast as the home of two of the central characters, husband and wife Ignacio and Zoe. We already know there is domestic trouble afoot so when we are introduced to their home with its cool interconnected boxes of off-form concrete and curtain glass, we guess that sociopathic behaviour will follow.
But nothing ensues. Ignacio is distant and particular but not unkind and certainly not unlikeable. Zoe is sulky and self obsessed but really does try to engage with her husband. For a while it seems that infertility is the source of the disconnection, then adultery but neither quite fits. Even more confounding - they enjoy their house, where they entertain friends and family. The pool in particular is highlighted, its inside/outside connection (a glass floor panel lifts to permit entry to the pool from indoors). It is elegant and warm and the simple plan arrangement with sophisticated detailing seems to suit their respective personalities well. The intrigue created by this paradox is captivating.
A surprising revelation and a terrible secret eventually explains the source of each of the brothers torment and the house, as in reality, is without fault.
Thanks to Felipe Assadi for permission to use images. See their portfolio here