Valentino Catania, Cristian Salguero
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…endearing, underdog odyssey…
Sitting as the cusp of adulthood – the age where the burning flame of passion is blown out by the cold winds of life – is titular Argentinian schoolboy Delfin (Valentino Catania). A boy who unlike others his age dreaming of becoming astronauts, firefighters or whatever the modern age equivalent of Jackie Chan is, remains driven by his desire to play the French horn in this charming depiction of youth optimism.
Deceptively small in stakes, Delfin asks big questions surrounding economic inequality. If Delfin, a go-getter who relies on his ingenuity to get going, were allowed the same opportunities as those with greater financial standing, what great things could he achieve?
It is not only the modesty of Delfin’s dreams that differ to others in his small, Argentinian town. Here is a boy who must support his father (portrayed ambivalently by Cristian Salguero), a man who asks his son to lie about his whereabouts to debt-collecting thugs and to work as a delivery boy before school as a secondary source of income. His every day is riddled by experiences foreign to his classmates and captured with a deliberate sense of twee that has audiences standing ringside in Delfin’s corner.
Director Gaspar Scheuer extracts the innocence of childhood in Catania’s stoic-yet-endearing performance. Delfin’s journey to try out for a local children’s orchestra is emblematic of the inequality granted to children of disadvantaged upbringings. Delfin’s neglect is softened by the quaintness of his picturesque, Argentinian surroundings; where ocean blue skies stretch across a vast horizon and the library-esque silence of the town is broken only by the dulcet tones of a make-shift French horn Delfin has constructed in lieu of owning the instrument.
He is not a boy, not yet a man (sorry Britney). ‘Eleven soon to be twelve’, Delfin responds when asked his age. He shows interest in girls but remains shy. He plays music without receiving taunts from fellow classmates. He is at the awkward age of childhood that borders on maturity. His creative pursuits are not only hampered from a financial perspective but also the lack of respect he receives from adults because of his age.
Delfin refuses to wallow in sorrow or make excuses for the hardships he encounters. Far from it. Rolling with the punches, he is limited only by his own inability to make things happen (and makes things happen he does) in this endearing, underdog odyssey that speaks to the absence of opportunity of the working class.