Metaphor is seldom more obvious or more heavily played than the one used by director Hugo Grosso in this 2006 film, his first non-documentary effort. Perhaps Grosso thought that without factual exposition to give viewers all the answers, we couldn’t figure out that the building of a bridge — again, the building of a bridge — was going to connect people who lead different lives. But again and again, Grosso hits us with images of Argentina’s under-construction Rosario-Victoria Bridge to underscore links between people with seemingly disparate stories. But it’s no big deal because what On Each Side lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in its facility with tightly focused storytelling. Perhaps due to his documentarian background, Grosso’s work finds dramatic arcs where many would see daily life. On Each Side brings us stories of small peoples’ lives — two frisky sisters, a curious photographer, one of the bridge’s engineers — and demonstrates the universal peculiarities that define people as individuals. The narrative is strong (with or without the symbolism) and funny, while Grosso’s visuals provide a strong sense of intimacy.
First appeared Jan. 28, 2009 in Detroit Metrotimes.