24 April 2014 | jwill602
A bizarre gem drenched in Lacanian imagery
From a brief description, Abel sounds like a lighthearted comedy. A boy, possibly autistic, takes charge in his household when he realizes that his mother is struggling to raise her three children. After staying up all night watching Pedro Infante movies, he begins to act like a father, taking care of his younger brother and older sister. However, problems arise when he takes his role too far. The film gets slightly disturbing when Abel begins thinking he is actually an adult. There are predictably cute moments that occur when a child acts like an adult, but they are constantly undermined by slightly disturbing moments. Don't get me wrong, Abel is still somewhat of a comedy, but it has a much darker side.
Luna is clearly well versed in Lacan (or, at the very least, he's read Mulvey). Abel's problem is with his identification. Something went wrong in the mirror stage and now his entire understanding of the symbolic order is incorrect. He rejects the name of the father and things get strangely Oedipal. In a climactic sequence, Abel's father makes use of a mirror in an attempt to correct Abel's identificatory issues.
Usually, Lacan is evoked for commentaries on the medium itself. Luna gives the ideas a fresh take by tackling them within the plot. If you've read Lacan or are familiar with his ideas, you'll definitely get a kick out of this film. Even if you haven't (but if you're interested in film, you should definitely read Mulvey's short article Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema) you can still enjoy the film as a bizarre story about a kid who challenges his absent father.