Fantastic Review: Carancho

By  · Published on September 27th, 2010

If you need to make a quick buck, head to Argentina, follow an ambulance around, and leave your ethics at the door. Sure, you can stay here in the United States and do that, but where are you going to get some delicious alfajores for those long work days? Exactly. Argentina is the way to go. Plus, if Carancho is to be believed, you can find something resembling love amongst the wreckage.

Ricardo Darin (who starred in The Secret in Their Eyes) plays Sosa, a lawyer who makes a living by chasing down many of the traffic accidents that kill 8,000 people annually in the country. He meets Lujan (Martina Gusman), a junkie doctor, and begins seeing her on dates where someone ends up on a stretcher. Of course, as they try to build a relationship, Sosa’s taking on the power of attorney for a case becomes an issue for his rivals. The kind of rivals that carry baseball bats and send messages with them.

There’s a typical thriller element to everything going on in Carancho – which, according to Google Translator means “Some of the words you entered could not be translated” (but is really just a name for a bird of prey) – but there’s something missing. In fact, there are more than a few things missing.

The movie is filled with incredible performances and beautiful cinematography, but the story is a bit convoluted and difficult to follow, especially since it takes so much time out from the thug-filled tension to create a quiet mood that never lends itself well to the action needed in the climactic moments.

However, the movie does swing for the fences in its own intimate way. Sosa’s sleaze goes beyond the typical stereotype of lawyers, and it ends up involving a sledge hammer, an old man’s leg, and a scheme everyone should take note of to make some solid insurance money. All of it is done like a warm distraction, but he’s tired of working in the world, and manages to be likable while doing almost nothing that could be considered humane.

Director Pablo Trapero doesn’t go as deep and dark into the taboo territory he’s traveled to in the past, but as a trade off, he’s created a realistic love in the midst of an unrealistic world that features every single character as complicit in large scale corruption and extortion.

Over all, the film’s strengths far outweigh the weaknesses – Darin and Gusman are both full of smoldering chemistry and carry what’s ultimately a romance under duress with incredible deftness. The noir aspects get in the way of a better movie, but their relationship is what really matters, and it’s also what really works.

The other standout is the camera work. Although there are far too many tight shots, some of the action sequences (especially the car crashes) are done with a raw energy that takes the current standard and makes it feel less stylized, and therefore, better at shoving you personally into the back seat and wincing at the impact.

That wincing carries over into some of the emotional impact as well, and even though the film comes to a predictable conclusion, the ride is one worth taking.

I realize I could have found a trailer with English subtitles, but learning a second language will make you grow as a person. Check out more Fantastic Fest coverage by clicking that banner below.

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