The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Valentin is an 9-year-old boy who is solemn and observant and peers out at the world through enormous glasses that correct his wandering eye. He lives with his grandmother in Buenos Aires, circa the late 1960s. His mother is not on the scene. His father appears from time to time with a girlfriend, usually a new one. Valentin spends a lot of time "building stuff for astronauts" and observing the adults in his life with analytical zeal.
He narrates his own story, but here's an interesting touch: The voice belongs to the young actor (Rodrigo Noya), but the sensibility is that of an adult remembering his childhood. There is an interesting explanation. The movie was written and directed by Alejandro Agresti, who tells us it is his own life story. Interesting, that he plays the father who causes this little boy so much grief.
Valentin's grandmother (Carmen Maura) is not a lovable movie granny. She does what is necessary for the boy, is miserly with her affections, is trying to stage-manage her son into a second marriage. One day his father comes home with a girlfriend Valentin likes. This is Leticia (Julieta Cardinali), and she likes Valentin, too. They get along famously, until one day he makes the mistake of telling her disturbing things about his father. She makes the mistake of repeating them to his father. As a result, Leticia breaks up with his father, and his father is angry with Valentin.
The movie sets its story against an Argentina carefully remembered by Agresti. Buenos Aires looks and sounds cosmopolitan and embracing, and there is a leisurely feeling to the streets and cafes, especially one in which Valentin observes a man sitting and reading and smoking, day after day. This is Rufo (Mex Urtizberea), a musician, who gives Valentin some piano lessons and becomes his confidant. "Rufo gave me the feeling I was older and more useful," he explains.