“Education is like an erection; when you have it, it shows”
Augusto Matte and Fabrizio Copano’s 2016 Chilean drama Attitude Test (Spanish: Prueba de Actitud) seems like the love child of Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012) and Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring (2013). Crawling a little awkwardly at times, it does its best to stay upright. But is it enough?
Doubtful of their ability to score high on their upcoming SATs, Jechu (Belen Soto), Coni (Denise Rosenthal), rapper Carnivorous Plant (Fabiola Alarcon) and Sam (Constanza Piccoli) hatch a plan to steal the official copy of the exam, escape to the coast and spend a week studying with the answers on their laps. Unfortunately, the temptations waiting for the girls at the beach prove too straining – both for their concentration, and their friendships.
The film seems as confused about its style as the audience is. The initial scenes of the girls getting their mugshots taken are reminiscent of the untamed, defiant quality we saw in The Bling Ring, but this chaotic energy is then swapped for a more nonchalant, vivacious interpretation of Ken Kwapis’ The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005), with the girls dubbing themselves “The Sisterhood of the PNS”. PNS, which stands for Perfect National Score, is quite homogeneous with “penis”, which is a joke that is recycled in the film to the point of exhaustion.
A sizzling holiday vibe possesses the story’s progression, supplying moments of fast-paced dialogue and realistically petty remarks. There is even one truly delectable scene that takes place during an Uber ride with a driver called “Zebra”. However, despite the script’s obvious attempt at creating a humorous story about, well, nothing in particular, the directorial style is pushing momentously to make the film seem like a thriller. The juxtaposition is jarring. The shaky camera and aimless angles are motion sickness-inducing, to say the least, heightened by the ominous and distorted whale sounds making up the film’s soundtrack.
This maneuver seems to exist in order to convey the tension that suddenly immobilises the girls, but taking into account how swiftly the film dips in and out of this state, it seems more ludicrous than rousing. Even despite the peril the characters find themselves in, the plot is yanked back to the gravity of their questionably treacherous deeds and fickle hearts. As their world is turned upside down during one haunting party, the film then starts resembling Todd Phillip’s The Hangover (2009) – but this approach, much like all the others, is quickly dropped.
Despite its shortcomings and many scenes that verge on dull, Attitude Test is quite visually appealing at times, often forsaking dialogue for instrumental music and dreamy hallucinations. And so, we are left with an uninspiring story, but somewhat engaging execution – at times. For those who prioritise creative value over the story itself, this film might just be the trip of a lifetime.