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RATED: NOT RATED
RUNNING TIME: 138 Minutes
o Available Subtitles: English, Spanish
o Available Audio Tracks: Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
o Behind-the-scenes: a musical montage
Fabian Bielinsky’s last cinematic effort featuring murder, intrigue, spousal abuse and taxidermy.
Ricardo Darin, Dolores Fonzi (The Fonz!), Pablo Cedron, Nahuel Perez Biscayart
Esteban is an epileptic who suffers from frequent blackouts and also works as a taxidermist. He has a belief that a perfect crime can be committed as long as everyone puts in the effort and preparation necessary to make a heist work like clockwork. On a trip with a friend into the woods of Patagonia, a tragic occurrence lays an opportunity for just such a perfect heist right in his lap. Now Esteban is in the middle of a situation he may not have any control over, and is about to learn the cost of the perfection he imagines so vividly.
The Drew Gooden look has been showing up in the weirdest places lately.
Fabian Bielinsky’s passing is probably nothing more than a footnote in the annals of film history, but the small output he did manage to produce (the well-regarded Nine Queens and now this) are an admirable little niche he carved for himself that shows a filmmaker comfortable with a visual sense that could have only gotten better with time.
"Have I met you somewhere before?"
Just by reading the nutshell, you can see that there’s a little bit of information overload with regards to the main character. When you have to convey early on that your main character is a taxidermist with epileptic blackouts that aspires to one day commit the perfect crime, you’ve somewhat stacked the deck against yourself for ‘amount of information the audience will accept organically being introduced into the plot before they begin to feel overwhelmed’. However, to the film’s credit, it always remains interesting and atmospheric, even when it feels like this is overcompensation for things that the script is lacking.
I think Bielinsky’s direction is the thing worth recommending this movie the most for actually, as there’s a pervasive sense of dread throughout this thing that creeps up on you until the entire situation explodes in the final act with some action-y scenes that don’t feel out of place due to the slow build that had simmered up until that point. Add to that the fact that the majority of the scenes take place out in the wilderness, and Bielinsky does a fantastic job through his camerawork of conveying a man in completely over his head by pulling back and showing the scope of the dense woods that Esteban is trapped in.
There isn’t more awkward a date than when Man Mountain Marko tags along.
Really, and I hinted at this earlier, the main problem with this picture is in the screenplay. A lot of moments that are meant to feel like fate’s cruel hands at work feel like artificial stopgaps created only for purposes of screenplay conflict. And the symbolism of the dog that follows Esteban throughout the film is a little heavy-handed for my tastes. But really, once the films gets out into its main locale in the woods and the plot finally becomes to make itself a little bit clearer, the movie moves along at quite a reasonable rate. Although as I said before, some of the character quirks seem a little contrived, the movie overall is something worth checking out. However, if Bielinsky ever had gotten a truly great script to work with, he could’ve made something great. This movie seems to be a simple message (there’s no such thing as perfection) wrapped up in admittedly beautiful cinematography.
The closest comparison I can make is a Jean-Pierre Meville outlook filmed with a Terrence Malick sense of space/environment. And while the film itself might not actually live up to the works of either of those directors, the fact that it draws comparison to them is something laudable. Worth checking out if you’re willing to commit a little bit of attention to a motion picture that works a slow burn, picking up steam as it moves along. Also worth checking out just to see a filmmaker in action who might’ve moved on to bigger and better things had tragedy not struck.
"It’s afraid! It’s afraid!"
I don’t begrudge the cover image being utilized as a way to get the general public to at least take a peek at the disc, but I sure prefer the original poster art for capturing the movie’s moody atmosphere and theme of man overwhelmed by his surroundings. C’est la vie. As for the audio/video, it looks damn nice and the 5.1 audio is solid due to some great sound design on Bielinsky’s part and an appropriately elegiac score. In terms of extras, this disc is the dregs, one of those situations where you wish they’d just go bare bones instead of pretending that they had features that could in some alternate reality be considered ‘special’. Especially baffling considering the director’s passing leads to no retrospective or ‘In memory of…” sort of featurette. There’s a Making-of, which is a fluff piece that mercifully lasts only a few minutes coupled with the musical montage of behind-the-scenes which isn’t particularly well put together or interesting. Also on board is a trailer, so there’s that.
7.0 out of 10