No, not Dat Boi. This one: Boi Salt, of Barcelona, the title character in the Spanish-language import “Boi,” from Netflix. Poor guy, to be saddled with a name so freighted with stale internet meme baggage. And that’s the least of his worries.
He just bailed (temporarily) on his pregnant girlfriend (Miranda Gas) and is obsessing about her; he is living with an aunt suffering from a condition that mysteriously compels her to throw open all the doors and windows; and he has a new job as a chauffeur. Oh, and he’s late to retrieve a couple of Singapore Chinese (apparently) businessmen (maybe) from the airport.
Boi (played by Bernat Quintana) tugs at our empathy as he fast-pedals and multitasks to try to keep on top of his responsibilities. We’re fearful he won’t wiggle out of the scrapes he gets into, but we’re rooting for him. When Boi stops to catch his breath, he reads a letter from a publisher rejecting his novel, “Reasonable Blood.” It seems to be the last reply from a bunch of hopeful queries he sent out, although the English subtitles are a little fuzzy on this point.
But “reasonable blood” is also something one of his clients later refers to, and he knows nothing of the book. Which brings us to a series of questions: Where is Jorge M. Fontana, the writer and director, leading us on this scavenger hunt of absurdity? Is Boi living what he has written, or is the novel writing his life?
It’s hard to explain why a wailing newborn, with umbilical cord, appears in the back seat of Boi’s car. And the miracle-working Simon Albatross, who must be found within 24 hours, according to one of the businessmen? Is he worth enduring the endless trumpet solo in the surreal jazz club that features in the desperate search? The tantalizing clues, occasional laughs and lapses in reality are not enough to hold this film together.
That ambition-killing letter Boi receives from the publisher sinks a knife into his heart when it says his writing sometimes reads like a mere exercise with no raison d’être. Those words might well have been describing this movie.
Not rated. Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 51 minutes.
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Helen T. Verongos is a senior staff editor on the Culture Desk. She is a former assistant editor of international news and a former deputy editor of the Continuous News Desk. @helentverongos • Facebook
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