Although its feverish opening sequence promises a certain measure of sensation in its treatment of a marginalized community, Adela soon swaps the hysteria for a tone of cool contemplation. A day in the life of an ex–radio star on her 80th birthday, Adolfo Alix Jr.'s film follows its lonely, battle-scarred heroine (Filipino screen legend Anita Linda) on her quotidian rounds through Manila's soon-to-be-demolished Bernardo dump. Leaving her tin-roofed shack, Adela gets a manicure, visits a son in jail and finally stumbles on a karaoke party that's the closest she gets to a birthday celebration. With its art-perfect snapshot of a community-in-flux, Adela calls to mind Pedro Costa's similarly rigorous slum-life portrait Colossal Youth. But whereas that Portuguese film is a prolonged immersion in its own marginalized setting, Alix keeps his incurious distance. Despite the general credibility of this portrait of a transient town — complete with impeccable long-shot images of Bernardo's impending destruction — and a game effort by Linda, the film feels a little too removed, preventing our intimacy with Bernardo life and one of its central figures. Monday, November 16, 5p.m. at Plaza Frontenac.— Andrew Schenker

Possible Lives (Las Vidas Posibles)
En route to a business trip, Carla's geologist husband, Luciano, disappears in vast, bleak Patagonia. Disappearances such as these are common here, says an investigator. Good outcomes are not. Carla checks into the hotel her husband never made it to, and she soon spies — and trails — her husband's doppelganger, a married local resident named Luis. Later, a car resembling Luciano's is found submerged; a waitress cryptically refers to the "South illness." At turns a metaphor for Argentina's haunting Dirty War and a sad and sexy mystery, Possible Lives illuminates how a disappearance — or even death — does not always come with the promise of finality. In Spanish with English subtitles. Tuesday, November 17, 5 p.m. at Plaza Frontenac. — Kristie McClanahan

A spitting image of the Man in Black tries to find his way home in Branson.
A spitting image of the Man in Black tries to find his way home in Branson.


The St. Louis International Film Festival
Screenings take place at Webster University, the Hi-Pointe, the Tivoli, Plaza Frontenac and the Saint Louis Art Museum.
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