But the documentary-within-the-film is soon sidetracked with hang-gliding and other local diversions. Although Cenac’s character finds that Jacqueline has a great screen presence (Rutherford, whether hiking, eating breakfast, or explaining what she’s doing on a computer in cutely French-accented exposition, is basically tasked with carrying Britto’s movie), she seems suspiciously unforthcoming about providing evidence for her story, leaving her director with the sense that he’s been “suckered into filming a reality show.” There is one moment halfway through, in which Cenac (or, really, Britto) tracks Jacqueline as she takes her morning jog, in which “Jacqueline (Argentine)” flirts with becoming a more suspenseful piece of moviemaking.
But the second half is also a willfully go-nowhere affair, with Cenac’s character waxing philosophical about how things aren’t adding up. None of this would be a problem if it seemed as though Britto had something compelling to say, but “Jacqueline (Argentine)” ultimately trivializes its allusions to world affairs. The attempted tone is probably somewhere in the ballpark of Hal Hartley’s “Fay Grim,” which also treated the prospect of an international conspiracy as a big joke, but Britto’s writing simply isn’t up to the task.
Tech credits are rudimentary by design and, probably, by necessity. Much of the film is meant to appear as though it were lensed from Cenac’s point of view, even though it’s pretty clear that the actor wasn’t present for most of the shooting; the voiceover was simply added later. (The character even “explains” why he didn’t film his introduction to Jacqueline: “Sometimes you just drop the ball.”) There are occasional tricks — through editing and sound — to make it seem as though Cenac were there.