by Tracey Chandler, Contributing Blogger
If you haven’t yet seen Pablo Trapero’s “Carancho,” then you must! It is an exceptionally well made film, with some fantastic performances by Ricardo Darín (from “El Secreto de sus Ojos“) and Martina Gusmán, wife of the director, in the leading roles. “Carancho” stands an excellent chance of doing very well at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and that Argentina, as a contender for film on a global level, is most definitely a country to begin paying more attention to in the future.
“Carancho” tells the story of Sosa (Ricardo Darín), a “Carancho” (without a true translation in English, but which is used to describe traffic accident lawyers because they circle around dead bodies like vultures and take advantage of the wounded) who falls in love with an emergency services doctor called Luján (Martina Gusmán). Part tragic love story, part intense drama, the film follows Sosa through a series of decisions which day by day spiral out of control until both he and Luján are so deep into a place where they never thought they would be, that even further drastic actions are required to get themselves out of the world within which they find themselves. As Sosa desperately tries to leave behind a life that he no longer wants, with Luján at his side, the corruption and his complicated past seems to meet them at every corner, putting another block in their way and forcing them further along a path of poor decisions and dangerous games.
What makes the plot that much more interesting is that Luján is not without her problems either. A highly educated doctor provides an excellent ironic backdrop for Trapero to play with when presenting disturbingly graphic scenes of this tired and troubled doctor as she strategically and methodically injects painkilling drugs into the veins of her feet on a daily basis. Her actions are cool, but reek of sadness and, as the film develops, they gradually become more like acts of desperation; the audience finally witnessing the extent of her addiction in a horrifyingly stark manner.
On top of the drug addiction scenes, the violence that takes place throughout the film is difficult to watch at times too. The cinematography is raw, unspoiled and exposes all on-screen action without shame. The entire film leans far more towards the style of a documentary or s televised drama than it does to a mainstream feature in terms of look and style. Whilst still being aware that the film is fiction, the graphic images and the lack of color give the work a gritty look and make the characters appear very real. The situations are explosive and the reactions of the actors reinforce the idea that what is being shown is a true; that these are the lives led by some. It is this reality which makes the film heart-stoppingly brutal at times and forces the audience to avert their eyes away from the screen regularly from start to finish.
The movie is very well researched, armed with an abundance of accurate information about hospitals, traffic accidents and corruption in Argentina without becoming so dense that the sense of narrative or pace of action is sacrificed. The result is a film which graphically depicts the tragic and sometimes disturbing reality of life for the small group of central Argentine characters who happen to come in contact with each other because of work, debt, corruption or love.
In the perfect ending, the audience is left hanging onto a highly tense moment, full of confusion and where the excitement is at its peak. It’s a fabulous contrast to the beginning of the film where the credits punch onto the screen in-between photographic evidence-like shots which document the activity of a recent car crash, late at night. The white on black lettering is cold and frightening and puts the audience into a perfect state of mind for the one and a half hours that awaits them.