by Atzin Ortiz, contributing blogger
Emiliano Romero’s debut “Topos” is a film that avoids the Argentinean ready-for-film festivals common places and decides to venture into a world of its own. It’s tricky to assign a genre, since a lot of crossed influences appear on-screen: fantastic, grotesque, black comedy, all in service for an allegory about society.
It’s an uncertain time. The world is divided in two sectors: in the underground, the moles (that the title suggests) live repressed in the worst conditions. Upstairs, the powerful and the oppressors. Not much can be seen about this last one, except a dance institute, with a very strict and implied military regime. One of the moles, played by Lautaro Delgado, is the son of the leader of some sort of resistance (it’s never clear what type of movement these people represent) and has developed an obsession and fascination with dance. He wishes to be up there, and in a reversal of fortune, he’ll find a way to abduct a new student and make himself pass as Amadeo.
The film successfully creates a visual world that evokes the style of Jeunet & Caro or Terry Gilliam, not only because of how it looks, but also in the rare camera angles, closed shots, and in performances that embrace the exaggeration throughout the grotesque. In this level, Romero’s film works in a correct and effective way. The sound design by Matías Hidalgo and Natalia Toussaint pays close attention to detail and creates an unsettling atmosphere.
But the script relies so much on it’s evident allegory (sometimes being quite redundant), that any possible reinterpretation of the world provided are shut down. There’s no clear reason why this universe works like it’s shown. It just is. And in that way, there is no actual difference between the upper and the lower world, the oppressors and the oppressed, except of it’s geographical location. The film’s final shot ends in a meta comentary note. As the camera slowly pans, it reveals the crew, reflected in a mirror. Are they, the argentine society, reflected in the world just witnessed? Perhaps. But by staying on the surface, the film loses it’s opportunity of being a big punch in the face.
The film opened in select cinemas (Gaumont, Cosmos, Artecinema…) and theaters/cultural venues on September 13th.
Topos (Argentina /2012). Written and Directed by: Emiliano Romero. Cinematography: Martín Frías. Edited by: Valeria Racciopi y Emiliano Romero. Sound Designers: Matías Hidalgo y Natalia Toussaint. Music: Germán Suane. Cast: Lautaro Delgado, Leonor Manso, Gabriel Goity, Mauricio Dayub, María Figueras, Pompeyo Audivert, Ludovico Di Santo, Osqui Guzmán, Dalila Romero. Running time: 100 minutos.