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.
Continue reading: Everybody Has a Plan [Todos Tenemos un Plan] Review
Set almost entirely in a nicely-appointed conference room in a Madrid office building, The Method begins with a very telling split-screen montage: As we watch the characters go about their morning routines, traffic is piling up and the streets thickening with protestors. The IMF-World Bank conference is in town and the anti-globalization forces are marshalling for a Seattle-esque day of angry confrontation. But this is of little concern to the seven, who have taken advantage of the protests (many offices have shut down for the day) to go to a group interview for an executive job at Dexia Corporation. Of course, we are never privy to knowing what it is that Dexia does, but such specifics are entirely beside the point.
Continue reading: The Method Review
It all starts with a taxidermist named Esteban (the great Ricardo Darin) and a boring job at a museum. When he's not stretching animal fur over plaster of Paris, Esteban has a knack for figuring out heists and bank robberies in his mind. So, when a botched hunting trip with a friend leaves Esteban to help on a small robbery in Bariloche, his reserved demeanor and special talents become a rare instance of utility.
Continue reading: The Aura Review
The battle plays out over the soul of a pathetic boxer named Manny (Demián Bichir), who makes next to no impression in the film. All eyes are on the leading ladies and the jaunts through heaven, hell, and earth. Whether Abril's performing in a cabaret or Abril is eating lunch in her waitstaff's uniform, this bizarre production keeps you wondering, well, what the hell is going on in this movie?
Continue reading: Don't Tempt Me Review
Just as the pre-cardiac arrest Rafa is vapid and unhappy, so is Campanella's film before the incident. Ricardo Darín, in the lead role, is a standout, sputtering dialogue like an angry boxer throwing jabs, but we've seen most of this before. He ignores the situations around him, works his fingers to the bone, and doesn't appreciate life. The prospects for an original, honest movie get worse when Rafa's aging father (Héctor Alterio) reveals his wish to renew his vows with Rafa's stunning mother (Norma Aleandro), regardless of her losing battle with Alzheimer's. Alterio's gushy proclamation is too sticky-sweet, and the film seems headed for soap opera territory.
Continue reading: Son of the Bride Review
Fifteen year old Liam (Martin Compston) is a standout among his peers for his natural creativity and audacious leadership, as he graduates his money-making enterprises toward increasingly illegal and remunerative use. We meet him as he and his closest mate Pinball (William Ruane) sell cheap fags to the gentry on the street and in a local bar. But the result is slim pickings, and not nearly enough to realize his dreams of providing a fresh start for his mum Jean (Michelle Coulter) when she gets out of prison. While this appears the noble desire of a dutiful son, it will become clear that it's more the obsession of a boy too immature to put relationships in their proper perspective.
Continue reading: Sweet Sixteen Review
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