Fascination with a cooler, older girl is a rite of passage for teenage girls of a more bashful disposition. In One in a Thousand, the younger girl, Iris (Sofia Cabrera), has been expelled from school. She is applying herself to basketball – until the mysterious Renata (Ana Carolina Garcia) appears. Iris’ preoccupation is transferred. Their attraction develops. But they are dogged by rumours about Renata, and they can’t find anywhere to kiss in peace.

One in a Thousand takes place in a housing estate in writer-director Clarisa Navas’ hometown of Corrientes, Argentina. The cluttered sets and close (but never voyeuristic) camera effectively convey the lack of privacy that must be endured when too many people are crammed into too few rooms. (The “thousand” of the title references the “a thousand flats” neighbourhood in which Navas grew up.) It is the inability to escape outside influence – subtle but permeating – that hinders Iris and Renata’s love from developing freely.

Unfortunately, this means that we, too, never become invested enough in the central relationship. Cabrera’s performance is gentle and natural, and Garcia does good work, but her character is more stock (Renata smokes and wears fishnets and has unruly hair). Their relationship has moments of real softness amid the concrete, but not enough discovery, and it culminates in a way that feels at once shocking and dissatisfying. Conversely, Iris’ relationships with her cousins feel easy and familiar, and their chats suggest at the lack of sex education and support for queer youth without feeling informational.

Ultimately, the romance on which it rests is not memorable enough to make One in a Thousand a great film. That said, this is still thoughtful filmmaking, with much to enjoy in the performances, dialogue and, most of all, the realistic and detailed setting.



CAST: Sofia Cabrera, Ana Carolina Garcia, Mauricio Vila, Luis Molina

DIRECTOR: Clarisa Navas

WRITER: Clarisa Navas

SYNOPSIS: Iris finds herself fascinated by Renata, an exciting older woman in her neighbourhood. They start to spend time together, despite persistent rumours about Renata.