Editor’s Note: The arts and entertainment department is adjusting its grading scale from a letter-grade system to a numeric score out of 5. This change is intended to increase accuracy and consistency between reviews.
Sharing immigrant and minority stories is more important than ever in today’s political climate, and “Nadie Nos Mira” offers a tender, slice-of-life perspective on the struggles of loneliness, sexuality and the immigrant experience.
“Nadie Nos Mira” (“Nobody’s Watching”) is directed by NYU film professor Julia Solomonoff. It follows Nico (Guillermo Pfening), an Argentinian soap opera star who comes to New York in hopes of finding an international breakthrough role.
But as his prospective film projects struggle with funding, he’s forced to take odd jobs — working as a waiter and a babysitter. Nico finds himself not Latino enough for some roles, and having too poor English for others. In the midst of this lost sense of direction, he also confronts conflicting feelings towards Martin (Rafael Ferro), Nico’s former boss and lover.
“Nadie Nos Mira” effectively portrays queer narratives without being a “coming out” film, an objective that was important for Solomonoff to achieve. Instead, she wanted to highlight Argentina’s progressive LGBTQ+ laws — having legalized same-sex marriage five years before the United States — which often come as a surprise to Americans.
Nico’s sexuality is simply another integral part of his character, and the film evolves to be a larger exploration of identity in the modern age. Filmed in both New York and Argentina with Spanish and English dialogue, the movie embraces the uncertain middle ground between the two cultures that Nico finds himself entangled in.
Solomonoff is a film professor, so it’s not surprising that there’s a certain cerebral or academic quality to the way the film is shot. She explores the idea of the camera as a spectator, framing Nico through mirrors and security cameras. Various characters operate to address the concept of an onlooker — or, more accurately, the lack of anybody watching. Nico’s friend exclaims that it’s the ultimate freedom, yet Nico feels invisible to the world.
The concept of “nobody watching” forms a motif that effectively strings together the various vignettes of Nico’s life that make up the film. The movie sometimes moves rather slowly — with long close-ups and subplots that don’t always further the main narrative. But this sometimes-directionless pacing is also fitting for a film that seeks to encapsulate the lonely anxiety and confusion of being in a different country and searching for a sense of belonging.
With “Nadie Nos Mira,” Solomonoff tells a complex story of identity and intersectionality that feels undeniably real, capturing the immigrant narratives that are essential to our society and resonate with us all.