Argentinian Cinema 2013 #10: Los Dueños (2013)

(Argentina 2013 95m) Cine Hoyts Parque Arauco

p Natacha Cervi, Pablo Chernov, Hernán Musaluppi d/w Ezequiel Radusky, Agustín Toscano c Gustavo Biazzi ed Pablo Barbieri Carrera

a Rosario Blefari, Germán de Silva, Sergio Prina, Cynthia Avellana, Liliana Juárez, Nicolás Aráoz, Daniel Elías

You marvel in the first few seconds. This looks like a proper good movie, like those made in the recent years, the boom of the Argentinian cinema, another movie that would make us proud as Latinamerica, hell, it even managed to get into the Cannes Film Festival, in the Critics Week, but then all illusion is shattered by the time the movie reaches minute 2. And the rest of the movie isn’t much than a repetition of the same subject, being hammered on over and over again with such a visual majesty and gorgeous framing and direction, that you don’t actually believe that what you’re seeing might be among the most offensive things that you’ve seen in a film in a long time. It’s a real shame because the rest of the film is really well made in terms of shots, editing and cinematography, it’s really well made, it doesn’t even seem to be made in Argentina, it feels european, and I guess that’s the main reason as to why it has premiered in so many festivals despite its obvious leanings towards an elitist and 1% view of the world that is despicable and just annoying to watch in times like these, where the conciousnesses are so illuminated as towards the evils of capitalism and how wrong it is to view certain classes in a certain way.

The protagonist of the film is a woman, the sister of a woman who is in charge of a countryside place (it has pigs, cows and horses), but it is her husband who is actually on charge, but since both sisters are daughters of the original owner, an old man who is marrying a young foreign woman. That is the reason why the family reunites and comes together to the house that is lavished with antiques and many great places to sleep and accomodations to have. The film, as said before, presents its conundrum and subject in the first two minutes, but the initial question that it ponders could be answered quickly and it never goes beyond that. So, what happens is that when our protagonist arrives to the manor house, we see the inside, and see how the workers who mow the lawn or take care of the animals are actually living there when there’s no one around to check on them, we see them sleeping, watching films on the DVD player, using the owner’s toothbrushes, using it as a motel of sorts where they bring out their girlfriends, all of that brings out the obvious question: Who are the real Owners of the Place? Their knowledge of the dairy animals, the working of the machines that they run, the place in which they live in, that makes it easy for us to answer that those with the real power are the poor workers, and not the rich ‘owners’. Yeah, that’s that, we can say that in the first 10 minutes, and then the film drags for 85 more and that’s all we see, and nothing else.

A friend of mine also saw this movie at the SANFIC (Santiago Film Festival) and had a similar opinion to mine, though his words were prettier, he said: ‘If you want to tell me that, you could write me a poem about it, but don’t make a fucking hour and a half movie’. Couldn’t be said better, the film just plays with variations, how the owner’s inability to actually make stuff compared to those that could be done by the workers, how when the owners change (and our protagonist starts to take care) the domination isn’t only phsyical, instead she starts to become obsessed with the presence of them, and she even starts to have sexual fantasies regarding the invasion of her body. The whole thing is way too futile and dissapointing from the perspective point of view, as its obvious that the film wants us to see that what the workers are doing is wrong, that they shouldn’t be doing it, but instead of just punishing them, they just emphasize how evil they actually are by having them use blackmail so that their conduct isn’t really punished as much as just severely diminished. This is a disgusting and facist film that just tries to denigrate a class of workers and demonize them as sexually obsessed, poverty striken, greedy and that would be able to do anything to make themselves better and to take advantage of those who have more than them. What a pathetic attempt. It’s a shame that it’s so well directed and made overall, it’s interesting most of the time as a visual piece, but the center is just so bitter.

6/10

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