White Elephant [Elefante Blanco]

"Excellent"

White Elephant [Elefante Blanco] Review


A true story from Argentina, this blistering drama is produced on a grand scale that really captures the intensity of the story. And as we're impressed with the quality of the filmmaking, we're also drawn in by a remarkably personal story about flawed people trying to make a difference. It's an important film, filled with sparky people who give us hope for humanity.

The "white elephant" of the title is a massive hospital construction site that sits unfinished on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Over the years, a vast slum has grown up around this edifice, causing another layer of embarrassment to politicians. Especially since the sprawling shantytown is run by warring drug lords (Gatti and Varela) who square off with both the ruthless riot police and the local people who are fed up with violence. Right in the middle of all of this is an inspirational priest, Father Julien (Darin), who drafts in his Belgian priest friend Nicolas (Renier) and social worker Luciana (Gusman) to help. But things are getting increasingly precarious for them all.

Expert filmmaker Trapero (who worked with Darin in Carancho and Gusman in Lion's Den) takes the time to explore all of the characters with remarkable depth. We begin to understand what draws Julien, Nicolas and Luciana to this dangerous place in which they can only barely hold out hope that they'll make a difference. And all three of them have severe experiences that remind them of their fragility. Darin is terrific at capturing Julien's reluctant realism, while his physical illness raises other issues for him. Renier gives Nicolas a gritty crisis of faith, as well as a moment of shocking steeliness. And Gusman as always holds the camera in her fierce gaze.

The film is packed with remarkably enormous set pieces in which Trapero never loses the humanity. One of the most unnerving scenes involves Nicolas storming right into the heart of kingpin Varela's viper's nest, demanding peace. ("That's a lot to ask for," she replies.) Indeed, the screenplay never takes an easy route through the material, recognising that it's only through raw tenacity that even one life can be turned away from this kind of violent existence. And it challenges us with the idea that perhaps we can make a small difference ourselves.

Rich Cline



Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Pablo Trapero

Producer: Alejandro Cacetta, Juan Pablo Galli, , Pablo Trapero, Juan Vera

Starring: Ricardo Darín as Julián, Martina Gusman as Luciana, as Nicolás

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.