Andrew Infante’s Ferny & Luca is a first feature with a lot of places to get to. It briskly orbits around romantic ideas and images, indulges in city symphony rhythms, and thrills in the idea of an expressive camera. Before it sets up its title pairing, it must first state its real intent: to capture Brooklyn — loners, partiers, streets, skies, all — through handheld jutters, sudden push-ins, establishing zoom-outs, split-screens, wide-screens, aspect-ratio changes, and other sundry forms of what might be classified as formal enchantment. The pace is off-kilter, the structure tangential; events, once Luca (Lauren Kelisha Muller) takes up Ferny (Leonidas Ocampo) on his offer of a drink after her DJ set, are leaped past or lingered over in a way that deliberately runs away from the typical interests of romantic comedy.
While Infante’s tendency as an editor is to hold off the spectacle for patient long-takes of roommate intimacy, the overall sense is that we’re rushing toward something. It isn’t resolution or ecstasy, though the soundtrack drops (including an unforgivably underlined one from Oklou) try to make a point. It isn’t heartbreak either, though we get a glimpse of each character, including Omari (Cameron Mitchell Mason), a seemingly assured foil to Ferny, at some terminus of dissatisfaction. The rushing, it turns out, might be the whole point: the feeling of movement, of activity, of precise references and emotional swings. The temporary lift that pop expression can provide is, however, a tough deal to make good on: it demands extremes if it won’t be contrasted or transmuted by narrative. Infante goes for broke in a coda, exhausting a store of city-in-transit images, but, surprisingly, there is little weight or sense of departure in this move. It’s a tribute, maybe, to the iconic simplicity and wonder of the nose-pressed-to-window view of the world. But it’s also an easily justified kind of avoidance: to say away with words, play the hits, and let the questions of genre recede in the rearview.
Published as part of BAMcinemaFest 2022 — Dispatch 1.