Sunday, October 24, 2010

London Film Fest 2010 Day 12 - CARANCHO

I found watching CARANCHO to be a rather alienating experience. It's all very well acted, and beautifully filmed. The movie drips with social realist integrity. The central romance feels authentic and the finale builds to a point of genuine tension. But for all that, and I'm not sure why, it somehow just didn't work for me. Maybe it was the unrelentingly dour environment or the lingering sense that writer-director, Pablo Trapero, was more interested in the message than the emotional life of his characters. Maybe I just felt that the two lead characters just didn't "click" on screen. Either way, I found CARANCHO to be a far less satisfying film than his previous London Film Fest entry, LION'S DEN.

The movie is basically a story of redemption set in the grimy urban squalor of contemporary Buenos Aires, much as in LION'S DEN. Ricardo Darin (so wonderful in THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES) plays Sosa, a lawyer who lost his license, now working as an ambulance chaser for a ruthless firm, and not above fabricating claims. He is trying to rebuild his self-esteem and his integrity partly to deserve the woman he has fallen in love with - a paramedic called Lujan, played by Trapero regular, Martina Gusman. She is another vulnerable, compromised character. On the surface, she is straight medic, but underneath she's self-medicating to get through her stressful schedule. Somehow, the complex emotional relationship between these two characters, and the xposé of the ambulance chasing industry should be more compelling than it is.

CARANCHO played Cannes and Toronto 2010 and opened in Argentina and Spain earlier this year.

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