Feature “Lake Los Angeles” begins at RiverRun tonight

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Screens on April 23 at 7 p.m., April 24 at 1 p.m. and April 25 at 4 p.m. Director Mike Ott will be in attendance for all screenings, which take place at A/perture 1.

by Eric Ginsburg

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Lake Los Angeles isn’t one of those films that builds, with dramatic music that emphasizes rising action, building to a zenith as tension between two foes spirals. It’s way too realistic for that, with loneliness and heartbreak as invisible enemies in this feature piece.

A morose Cuban immigrant living in what looks like rural Texas but is actually southern California makes extra money by sheltering undocumented immigrants, including a young Mexican girl who won’t eat. The two form a surrogate family for each other, and though they are apart for the vast majority of the film, their stories dovetail after their paths cross.

Minimal music, except for a scene where the pair listen to Jeanette’s “Porque Te Vas” on a record player, add to the eerie and displaced sense of the film. Careful camerawork abets this feeling of imbalance and impermanence well. Lake Los Angeles is compelling, stinging and deeply sad, and increasingly so as it progresses. For most of the film, after the protagonists quickly diverge, viewers are left wondering if they will ever reunite, seemingly each other’s last hope of some semblance of home.

Lake Los Angeles, dir. Mike Ott, 85 min., 2014