While it's fascinating to see Viggo Mortensen starring in an Argentine thriller, the film itself is disappointing and dull, keeping all the compelling emotions so internalised that we find it difficult to care what happens. It's skilfully shot and edited, and Mortensen's dual performance is excellent, but the central relationships are so vague that the film never draws us in.
Mortensen plays Agustin, a successful Buenos Aires doctor whose marriage to Claudia (Villamil) is strained by her persistent desire to adopt an orphan. Just as he's about to snap at her, his twin brother Pedro (also Mortensen) arrives to tell him that he's in the final stages of cancer. When he dies, Agustin sees a route of escape: he assumes Pedro's identity and returns to their family home deep in an isolated wooded river system. There he discovers that Pedro had been involved in a reckless kidnapping with childhood friend Adrian (Ganego). And as Agustin tries to clean up Pedro's mess, he begins to fall for bee-keeping assistant Rosa (Gala).
Mortensen is essentially playing three characters here: the sharp but frazzled city doctor, the wheezy country bumpkin and a combination of the two as Agustin pretends to be Pedro, although only Adrian seems to fall for this ruse. What's intriguing is the way Mortensen so thoroughly internalises his performance, revealing his thoughts and feelings through his eyes. This holds our interest more than anything else in the film, and gives his interaction with the other characters a jolt of raw honesty. Otherwise, we never really believe the romance between Agustin and Rosa, and Adrian is evil for evil's sake, which makes him a cartoon villain.
Meanwhile, the imagery is gorgeous, as filmmaker Piterbarg captures the dark-edged beauty of the swampy setting, which echoes in Agustin's moral conundrum. And the editing is effectively jarring as we feel like we're watching a dream, or maybe a nightmare, when the story flickers between the city and the forest. But the film's pacing is so relentlessly low-key that we become bored by all of the navel gazing. And aside from some wrenching emotional moments, there's nothing here that engages us. So the seemingly pointless ending leaves us cold.
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Director: Ana Piterbarg
Screenwriter: Ana Piterbarg
Also starring: Gerardo Herrero