I wrote the following thoughts last fall in an exchange with Aaron Garrett coming out of his blog post on Matías Piñeiro's excellent 2012 film Viola.
In recently rewatching Viola, and after having seen Piñeiro's more recent film The Princess of France, I'm struck by how both films seem to use competition and rivalry among various arts and media as a metaphor for competition and rivalry in romantic contexts. In The Princess of France a whole bunch of artistic media are thrown into competition: radio, classical music, oil painting, theater (as read and as performed) and film. The urgency placed on this competition almost seems (as I remember the film) to deflate any urgency in the romantic rivalries ostensibly at the center of the film. Somehow the characters manage to communicate anyway, despite these rivalries.
In Viola, in contrast, the competition is squarely between theater and film, and it centers on the very different roles that repetition plays in the two media. Whereas film is in its nature repetitive or automatic (it's always the same with each projection), even a repeat performance of a play introduces new possibilities, new opportunities for improvisation and disruption (as when Cecilia finds herself the object of the gaze of someone in the audience, the person who will turn out to be Javier). It's striking how the film explores this through its own kind of repetition (including indeed some Hang Song Soo-like devices, as with the "seduction" between Cecilia and Sabrina) but also through some very standardly literary devices. Viola represents (or represents to herself) the automation of cinema, something made explicit in her dream, in which the two theater actresses in the car encourage her to be more spontaneous, less automatic. We associate Viola less with Shakespeare than with the history of cinema (in her working for Metropolis Films, its 'M' unmistakably that of the poster of Lang's film, also evoking the 'M' of another Lang film) and specifically the place in the history of cinema of Buenos Aires (where missing scenes from Metropolis were discovered). I take seriously, maybe too seriously, her name's affinity with 'Moviola'. And her new spontaneity, at the end of the film, is symbolized by the very literary, indeed fairy tale, device of a magic ring: the ring that Cecilia gives her in the car, which she's found wearing at the end, as though having been bestowed theater's improvisatory power.
So the epilogue is very striking in this context. In a way, there's nothing specifically cinematic about it. The device of a voiceover from the future (establishing a "future perfect," as Garrett puts it in his post) could be achieved in the theater, and even without "automatic" means such as a recording. But by the end of the film these concerns don't really matter. Theater's spontaneity can be delivered, as through a magic ring, and just like films delivered through the mail. At the end the two media look very much alike, albeit still separate. This harmony, like the harmony between Viola and Javier in the epilogue, may not be permanent, but it's harmony nonetheless.