Soon after reuniting with her half siblings, Magdalena (Agustina Cerviño), the unlikely protagonist of “Rock, Paper and Scissors,” takes a tumble down the many, many stairs of her childhood home. It is unclear if she was pushed — and if so, by whom — but it is apparent that this movie, directed by Macarena García Lenzi and Martín Blousson, wisely withholds its revelations.
Forced into the care of her siblings, Magdalena languishes in the bed where their father recently died. Her sister María José (Valeria Giorcelli) remains ever-watchful while their brother, Jesús (Pablo Sigal), acts as a passive confidant. Before Magdalena arrived to collect her share of their father’s inheritance, the three hadn’t spoken in years. As her condition worsens and the siblings’ behavior becomes increasingly erratic, she must use their shared past to try and manipulate her way out of captivity.
That past is loaded, to be sure. María José, as devoted to God as she is to “The Wizard of Oz,” vacillates wildly between the familial nurturer and an Annie Wilkes impersonator. Jesús is just as menacing but hovers in the periphery, content to make violent, experimental short films. He is something of a family outsider for being gay, while Magdalena is occasionally maligned for having a mother with darker skin, though these details don’t add much to the script except a few jarring slurs.
There are no easy answers at the end of Magdalena’s journey, but her story is as interesting as it is confounding. Given the cast’s three outstanding performances and slick camerawork by Nicolás Colledani, this makes for a fascinating capsule of family brutality.
Rock, Paper and Scissors
Not rated. In Spanish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 23 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV, FandangoNow and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.
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