Pompeya takes viewers on a wild ride through Argentina´s crime world

by Atzin Ortiz González, contributing blogger

The first solo film by director Tamae Garateguy, (she co directed “UPA! Una película argentina” in 2006) is a rarity within the Argentinean cinema: a genre flick that moves between the homage and the parody, a movie within a movie, a gore fest, and a meta-comentary about cinema, which has been screened in numerous festivals around the world (Warsaw, SXSX, Toronto, Mar del Plata).

The plot goes as followed: a movie director hires a renowned screenwriter and his freelance assistant to write a gangster movie that’s set up in Pompeya (a working class neighborhood in the south area of Buenos Aires, with a tango inheritance). As the reunions take place we start witnessing the creation of this imaginary world. And so, the movie switches between fantasy and reality.

Tamae Garateguy and co writer Diego Fleischer fill the story with archetypical characters with a local allure, making them their own: Dylan, the antihero of the underworld; Timmy, his mute and deaf brother; Shadow, his sidekick; Lana, the femme fatale; the Russian and the Korean mobs. Dylan is caught up between a violent territorial dispute with the mobs. But also, the creators of this world are in a battle of their own: while the screenwriter is more interested in Borges and Greek tragedy, both the director and the assistant are fascinated with action sequences, blood and gore.

The film doesn’t take itself too seriously (which is a good thing) and decides to be as playful as it can be. Tamae has a keen eye for mixing violence with comedy (a gory yet hilarious torture scene that is unexpectedly interrupted by the wife of a Korean thug is a perfect example). But during the lengthy second act some scenes lose their initial effect, feel random and generic, and the whole concept of the movie starts wearing thin.

“Cinema is fantasy, an illusion” says the fictional director in the opening scene. But in this fantasy both worlds, the real and the imaginary, coexist. And when they finally collide during the last act of the movie, we can see that the rules of their own games are pretty much alike. That’s one of the best things “Pompeya” has to offer.

Worth a look.

Pompeya is playing @ Malba: Friday / Saturday 8pm; and @ Gaumont Cinema.

Pompeya (Argentina/2010) / Director : Tamae Garateguy / Screenplay: Tamae Garateguy and Diego Fleischer / Edited by : Catalina Rincon / Cast: Jose Luciano González, Federico Lanfranchi, Miguel Forza, Joel Drut / Duración: 100 minutos




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