Smoke and Mirrors: Nobody’s Watching is an exercise in restraint and lost momentum

Nico (Guillermo Pfening) is a famous soap actor in Argentina who moves to New York City after his romantic relationship disintegrates. Nobody’s Watching follows Nico through a series of jobs, events and interactions with friends and lovers as he struggles to figure out what’s next.

Pfening gives a great performance as Nico, a man who is always acting – constantly portraying success to those in his life, despite the fact that he is almost irrevocably stuck. His past fame holds no weight in the big city, and the opportunities that once existed are no longer possible.

Themes of technology and isolation are prominent, and they are a match with not only Nico’s situation, but also presumably those of many immigrants who feel alone, despite being aware that they are the subjects of public surveillance and scrutiny.

The film waivers, wandering aimless throughout the city, much like the main character, and is most compelling when it finds its way back to the narrative. I wanted to feel more invested in the characters, but ultimately, I was a passive viewer – only watching, not engaging – and that experience was likely by design. While a focused story would have coaxed more compassion, there is enough pathos here to keep you close.   

Nobody’s Watching (Nadie Nos Mira) screens on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 6:45 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire 4 and on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 1:30 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire 3 as part of the Calgary International Film Festival. For tickets go to

Jane McCullough used to write about many things musical, artistic, cinematic and delicious with the publications VOX and Fast Forward. She is currently the cooking school coordinator at The Cookbook Co. Cooks.