Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pablo Trapero: When Worlds Collide

The genesis of the fourth wave of the New Argentine Cinema has spanned generations. Past masters Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, Jose Martinez Suarez and Leonardo Favio, ignited like all Sixties cinematic movements by the French New Wave, gleaned what they would from the nickelodeon past, casting fertile eyes to the Cinemascope future.

In recent years, Lucrecia Martel and Lisandro Alonso have made their voices heard with a series of austere and cleansing works which herald a pure shift in the perspective of the liveliest art in that region. The Secret In Their Eyes was a hackwork of CSI monotony and third act shock tactics which not surprisingly won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. That overbaked joke was not representative of a time and place as The Headless Woman, Liverpool and, now, Carancho, are.

Carancho (Vulture) proclaims the coming of an important new auteur to not only Argentine Cinema, but the world at large. Pablo Trapero's use of woozy hand-held cameras, location shooting and rippling streetlights and hospital lights culminates in a breathtaking patchwork of a modern city and its underbelly. His film is populated by ambulance chasing insurance agents, their mobsterish bosses, corrupt ambulance drivers, willing victims dying to be exploited for cash and a junkie doctor craving the warmth of a fix.

Ricardo Darin, his face etched in oak, deeply expressive, inhabits the being of Sosa with a lived in intensity of purpose that is truly awe inspiring. He was excellent in The Secret. . . ., but here has an honestly worthwhile film surrounding him, mooring his stunning performance. Sosa is the aforementioned insurance agent, who comes to realize, as the film progresses, the immensity of his acts and their effects on others.

Martina Gusman, as Lujan, the EMT who gets wrapped up in Sosa's life, also gives a galvanizing performance which builds as the film progresses.

Trapero weaves a wrenching love story around this bleak world he has created, and its effect is miraculous. The bravura climax is a tour de force to cap a movie which is a tour de force in and of itself. The collective piece, with it's smothering city of night and reckless bodies careening across the canvas, is reminiscent of Rossellini's culturally conflicted consciousness, and specifically Otto Preminger's Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), its moral questions in a landscape of sepia neon.

Trapero's fusion of neo-realism and film noir is a staggering work, proving along with literal and figurative collisions in his film, the purity and beauty that is possible when worlds collide.

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