Today we have something special. Since I really don’t have the energy to create a review that will speak to the faults and overall nothingness that I felt towards this Argentinian film, I decided that someone else may review it. So, I present to you Juan Francisco Gacitua, a young Argentinian film critic, just like me, that has become an expert on the cinema of his country, but without blinding himself to the atrocities that it commits from time to time. This originally appeared in his blog ‘Dos mil quince veces no debo’ in 2015, and you can see its original Spanish version here. So, I leave you, first, with my gut instant reaction after finishing this film, and then, Juan Francisco will take it away.
“There’s something weird about this film. It never truly made a connection with me, even if I can really point to a few flaws in it. I do think that it’s made with some sense of how a film works and how it’s directed, and it has some long shots that are interesting (even if too reminiscent of ‘Goodfellas’ (1990)) I think that the use of music is particularly obnoxious as much as its use is ironic, in fact, when it’s more ironic, the less it works. Trapero is capable of some interesting elements, but here they are all in service of something that is anchored in reality and thus it only has the interesting beats that the real history has, and thus, a lot of dead time and a lot of repetition of certain moments just because of the shock inherent in them.” – Jaime Grijalba.
by Juan Francisco Gacitua.
With some common sense, this story of a wealthy family helping each other to hide the atrocities that their position permits them (more favorable in the political than in the economical sense, until the democracy fell on them) would’ve fallen on the hands of Lucrecia Martel, whose career representes -among other things and until ‘Zama’ (2017) arrives- the tension in the bubble of certain social segments, to which none impunity nor juridical advantage makes them avoid the discomfort or the remorse of what they’ve committed or ignored. Under the direction of Trapero and this cast the unnecessary flashy technicalities, the plane acting and the impossibility of the director of establishing his narrative methods were to be expected, in the context of characters that are completely different than the ones he’s worked with in his previous films.
Unexpectedly, a couple of things do sum up. Argentinian films as different as ‘La danza de la fortuna’ (1944) and ‘Tiempo de revancha’ (1981), with an endless number of examples in the medium and as the consequence of diverse economical and value crisis, have meddled with the Argentinian obsession of breaking up, saving yourself and forget about the sadness forever. The monologue of Arquímedes to taunt his son in jail is plenty obvious regarding that, but the movie traces very well the dangerous intersection of the desire to belong and maintaining a living level at whatever cost, with the despise of the lives of the rest that was taught by the social circle that supported the 1976 dictatorship because of the reason just mentioned. The Puccio clan seem to select victims based on a pure economical criteria, and manage a small business of kidnapping and death while the political context helps them (the talk between Arquimedes with his jailed colleague and his following action in front of the commodore are telling). There’s less subtleness to show the youngest family member taking real conscience of the business that the patriarch imposes and the mother allows in silence, but it results interesting to think that they ended up witnessing in a oblique manner what had happened to thousands of people for political reasons, the horrifying crimes that families in their surroundings considered deserved and avoidable destinations.
The narrative histrionics of Trapero saturated in his previous peripheral chronicles and here continue to do so, with the constant adding of unbearably ironic music, to underline with three different kind of marks to the spectator that it’s watching the monstrosities that paradoxically disimulate a lifestyle that always shows itself as warm and noble in front of cameras and institutions: the general overacting to which the cast is force doesn’t help in this sense, and Peter Lanzani needs urgent lessons that permit him express dialogues in a direct register, and without the need to accommodate each phrase to the face and voice tone that hailed him to television stardom. With all that and more to point out, the audience made it incredibly successful at the box office, the Venice festival awarded Trapero, national TV network Telefé would’ve put up money for a sticker album if it would’ve been needed, and the road is once again given out so that the success of the young directors coming to the Argentinian mainstream still consist of cheap polemics and rough strokes.