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The Guatemalan Handshake 2006

  • 3.5
One of the Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces of Independent Film, writer-director Todd Rohal charts strange new cinematic waters with his madly innovative feature debut, THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE. Winner of Special Jury Prizes at Slamdance and Torino, Rohal's vivacious feast for the senses "bristles with his anarchic visual language, offbeat humor, ephemeral sense of narrative, circuitous character sketches, and freewheeling sense of mirth" (according to the Baltimore City Paper). In the confusion following a massive power outage in small-town America, human doormat Donald Turnupseed (actor/musician Will Oldham) suddenly vanishes, setting in motion a surreal series of events affecting his hapless father, his pregnant girlfriend, a pack of wild boy scouts, a lactose-intolerant roller rink employee, an elderly woman in search of her lost poodle and his best friend: a ten-year-old girl named Turkeylegs. Narrated by young Turkeylegs as she pieces together Donald's puzzling disappearance, Rohal's rural tapestry explodes in unforgettable widescreen surprises: a women attends her own funeral, a childhood television legend leaps from a cliff, the sun rises sideways and a bright orange, wedge-shaped electric car changes hands again and again. Chaotically absurd with an underlying poignancy, these droll vignettes come crashing together in a climactic demolition derby that marks the exhilarating debut of an adventurous storyteller.

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"...marvelous mysteries, quirky connections and cockeyed running gags that Rohal effortlessly weaves into the design of [this] crazy-quilt comedy." - Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Member Reviews (4)

top reviewer

Lost on a highway somewhere between Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble" and David Gordon Green's "George Washington," Todd Rohal's debut film is a groggy, idiosyncratic look at a community after one of its own goes missing. An oddball slice-of-life with a sugary glaze of weird, "The Guatemalan Handshake" is an interesting exercise in mood - think Todd Solondz without the storm clouds.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

A delightful , entertaining,engaging comedy fugue. It just keeps movin' and groovin''A great Fandor find.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. Interesting soundtrack.

enigmatic, ugly america raises its head and whimpers, scrambles time and smells funny.